History of Hudson, Florida



Articles about schools in Hudson are here and here. Pictures of Hudson are here. This page was last revised on Aug. 27, 2019.

About 1868. “The first settlers that we have any record of settled there in 1868, Mr. Worley, Jess Hay, William Hay, and Joseph Hay. Later on W. D. Frierson, Bill Lang, William Bailey, Bill Tillet and Crocket Whiden, Sam Stevenson, Bud Stevenson, Allen Hill and Malcolm Hill, Hill House and J. W. Hudson made a scattering settlement along the coast.”—J. A. Hendley.

May 25, 1869. According to a genealogy web site, Nancy Jane Branch is born at Hudson. Web sites indicate she was a daughter of John Laurence Branch and Eliza Wilder, and that she married Reuben Y. Walden.

1874. The fishing industry is started by William Lang

1877-78. A list of Hernando County schools includes the Lang school at Hudson. [A history of schools in Pasco County is here.]

Late 1877 or 1878 or 1879. The Isaac W. Hudson family moves to what is now the site of Hudson, building a home near a large spring. He was advised by his doctor to move to the Gulf coast, hoping that the salt air would help his bronchial ailment. (Isaac W. Hudson Jr., who was born on Nov. 17, 1870, said he was a little over seven years old when they arrived. In 1978, the Florida legislature proclaimed April 28, 1978, to be Hudson Pioneer Centennial Day, based on the approximate date April 28, 1878, on which Isaac Hudson settled here. According to Webb’s Historical, Industrial and Biographical Florida (1885), the family settled there on Feb. 5, 1879. Mrs. Hudson’s obituary says they arrived in 1878.) J. B. Hudson recalled that the family settled on the Gulf in February 1878. A 1922 article in the Dade City Banner reports that they arrived in 1878.

1878. The Hudson Cemetery is established with the first burial that of Ida Melissa Hudson, the daughter of Isaac W. and Amanda Hudson, according to Historic Places.

1882. A Baptist church is constructed of pitch pine at the corner of Hudson Ave. and Main Street in Hudson.

May 16, 1882. The Hudson post office is established.

About 1883. Dr. James G. Guthrie begins a practice in Hudson.

1885. Webb’s Historical, Industrial and Biographical Florida reports: “H. W. Howse, J. W. Hudson, W. M. Lang, A. M. Bellamy, W. G. Frierson, A. W. Blanks, H. C. Bush, W. W. Chaney, W. J. Hilliard, James Worley, Jesse Hay, and M. D. Tillman [perhaps should be Fillman] are the more prominent residents and orange growers.” It identifies the postmaster as John W. Hudson.

1886. The Florida State Gazetteer (1886-1887) reports the population is 16. Hudson has Methodist and Baptist churches. H. C. Bush is justice of the peace; Frank Hudson is a carpenter; and J. B. Hudson is general merchandise. Farmers and growers are A. J. Bevis [Rewis?], A. M. Bellamy, A. W. Blanks, W. W. Chaney, J. H. Dicks, M. D. Filman, W. G. Frierson, J. T. Hay, J. T. Hudson, I. W. Hudson, H. H. Howse, M. H. Hurst, W. H. Jones, W. M. Lang, G. T. Lawler, L. E. Moseley, W. S. Quartermous, C. W. Weaver, A. J. Rewis.

Feb. 19, 1886. William Stanton Quertermous (1829-1887) writes, in a letter mailed from Hudson: “ …we have had nice spring weather ever since with the exception of a few slight frosts to taper off I have watermellons up about four acres planted I have suckseeds in clearing about three acres more of the stock for potatoes I will bud off the balance and part it in corn and peas every thing is beginning to assume its natural appearance the orange trees are not materially injured it is thought the next crop of oranges will be a larger one the lemons and guavers are beginning to put up they were killed to the ground … we still hear that our Railroad is to be built specialy the Florida Southern I understand will build that road from Brooksville to point Penallas this summer it will run about six miles east of me they have made the survey but I do not think anyboddy Knows what they will do thats our railroad co that never tells nothing They have got the money to do as they please…” [More information on Quertermous is at Jeff Cannon’s web site here.]

Nov. 9, 1886. The Bee Tree post office is established, near the intersection of Hudson Avenue and Hays Road. [It was discontinued Nov. 19, 1888.]

1888. Dr. James Martin Posey begins a practice in Hudson, according to the Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929.

1889. A cemetery is established in what became the town of Vereen. [The cemetery is located on Hudson Avenue, one-half mile east of Hicks Road. The historical marker reads: “…Stephen P. Douglas who died in 1889 is the earliest marked burial. In 1890 Abraham and Susanna Bellamy donated land to the Methodist Episcopal Church, in memory of her parents Joseph and Susanna Vereen. A building completed in 1891, served as the community’s church and for some years, as a public school, until it was destroyed by a forest fire in 1920.” In 1906 a newspaper article mentioned Mrs. J. H. Davidson, of Vereen, Fla., and a 1908 directory listed J. H. Davidson as a railroad superintendent and purchasing agent.]

Apr. 18, 1889. The Savannah Morning News reports, “The store and postoffice at Hudson, Pasco county, was totally consumed by fire one night last week. The mail and everything connected with the office were burned.”

Aug. 20, 1897. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports that Tillman Ozlas of Hudson was in Tampa yesterday on a business trip.

Dec. 18, 1898. Rev. J. M. Mitchell is appointed pastor of the Hudson Methodist Episcopal Church, South, according to a church register. [The register shows that subsequently Rev. M. T. Bell served until Dec. 17, 1900, and Rev. Tom McMullon served until Dec. 1901. Other pastors were Rev. W. F. Fletcher (1902), Rev. R. H. Barnett (1903), Rev. W. H. F. Robarts (1904), Rev. K. M. Albright (1905), Rev. K. D. Jones (1906), Rev. J. M. Dieffenwierth (1907), Revs. Combs, Willis, and Mitchell (sharing, Dec. 1908 to Dec. 1909), Rev. J. D. Frierson (1909-1911).]

Oct. 5, 1899. The San Antonio Herald reports, “Tanner’s turpentine still, near Hudson, burned to the ground last Friday. The loss is between $1,000 and $2,000.”

May 10, 1900. The San Antonio Herald reports, “Sheriff H. C. Griffin and County Judge Davis took the train here Monday morning to go to Week’s turpentine camp near Hudson, to investigate the murder of John D. Cleland, who was killed Sunday afternoon by negroes. [On May 17, the newspaper reported, “According to current statements, Sheriff Griffin found the situation quite serious at Weeks’ turpentine camp, when he went there last week to investigate the murder of J. D. Cleland, the woodsman of Johnson’s camp. The negroes implicated defied arrest successfully until he took the kopjes by storm, and captured three out of the six defenders. The camp being outside of this county, he turned the prisoners over to deputies to bring them to the jail in Brooksville.” on May 17, 1900, the Blackshear Times (Georgia) reported, “The shooting and instant killing of Mr. J. Irwin Cleland last week near Hudson, Fla., was a severe shock to his aged father (John Cleland) and relatives in this (Pierce) county. He was shot from ambush by negroes, of whom three has been lynched. Circumstances prevented the body from being brought home for burial and today it sleeps in Florida soil.”]

May 18, 1902. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports: “The Brooksville and Hudson Railroad is nearing completion. It is only a few miles from Hudson at this writing. The new railroad from Brooksville to Hudson will open up one of the finest belts of timber in the State. It will also give Brooksville direct water transportation with the outside commercial world.”

May 30, 1903. A newspaper reports, “Friends of V. I. Lewis, of Hudson, who is reputed to have the longest whiskers in Pasco county, have asked to enter him in the Long Whiskers Contest. Sorry, but the contest is limited to Hillsborough.”

July 18, 1903. The Tarpon Springs News reports: HUDSON. The sponge fleet has been kept in by bad weather. H. C. Bush is doing surveying on the Hudson & Brooksville railway. Rev. M. Smith is visiting in Hudson this week. Squally weather with brisk rains prevails here. Our picnic, of 25th inst, is the great topic of conversation hereabouts. A complete programme of amusements is to be in evidence besides the picnic feature. Our hearts are set on making this a success—which our good people certainly deserve. May they enjoy good weather, a big crowd and the time of their lives on that day, of all others!

May 24, 1904. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports that the Brooksville and Hudson railroad has opened, with the residents of Brooksville given a free trip to Hudson and back.

1905. The Ocala Evening Star calls Hudson “the new town on the bay” and reports that “Hudson is booming and the pay roll from the timber and turpentine camps amounts to $1200 a week.”

1910. The Kentucky Inn of Hudson is completed.

1918. The 1918-1919 Florida State Gazetteer and Business Directory reports Hudson has a population of 150. It lists: H. C. Henderson, general store; G. M. Little & Sons, fish; Moseley & Williams, general store; W. H. Nelson, general store; Norman Dunn & Co., turpentine; J. H. Smith, postmaster; Stubbs Bros. Co., naval stores.

July 11, 1918. John Olan Hay (b. Oct. 6, 1889) dies in military service

Mar. 27, 1919. A deed conveys for $20 a lot at S28 T24 R16 from Mary S. Brady, widow of William Brady, Miss Sarah S. Gomez, daughter, and Miss Mary E. Knowles, daughter, to W. S. Knowles, T. W. Brady, and Thomas Pinder, trustees of the Church of God at Hudson. [Info from Jeff Cannon]

Nov. 18, 1921. An article in the Dade City Banner has: “Between Hudson and Port Richey is nine miles of absolutely the worst road in the county. It is a narrow rock road, surfaced with asphalt and worn out so that driving over it is a torture.”

May 10, 1922. The Pentecostal (or Church of God) building is destroyed by fire. A newspaper reported, “The congregation had been holding their regular weekly prayer-meeting and had very recently left the church, when nearby, people heard the roar and cackle of flames which however were so far advanced that nothing could be done but to save the nearby places; with only buckets and water from the marsh and quick action this was done.”

1923. The first community water system is installed, with a one-pitcher pump, pump point and 15 feet of pipe

1924. Lucy Hudson deeds the cemetery property to three trustees, A. L. Hudson, J. B. Hudson, and Michael Knowles Jr.

Aug. 4, 1924. The Tampa Morning News reports, “Road work is progressing satisfactorily with the addition of a new force of men from various sections. This, although hard and hot work, is a boom to many at this time as their farm work this season has been unprofitable. … Vacant houses are very few. The colored section is crowded, a number of the road hands living in tents.”

Nov. 9, 1924. The Tampa Morning Tribune reports, “Cotton may be added to the list of valuable crops that are grown in the Hudson vicinity. Mr. E. L. Baird, on his homestead near Mr. Taylor Frierson’s farm, has grown this season a bale weighing 581 pounds which sold for $1.05.83 [sic] net, besides 20 bushels of seed that brought $1.00 per bushel.”

Dec. 16, 1927. The Dade City Banner reports, “Anent the advance of Hudson, remembering that it is a small place, there has been within perhaps a year and a half just past, the reconstruction of the old Mosely hotel into an up-to-date and charming place—Gulf View Lodge, with its beautiful grounds surrounding the spring which has been walled in. The grounds have been filled in and planted with lawn grass. There is also the town waterworks, also the work of Major Edgar formerly of Montreal, Canada. The major is contemplating still further improvements on his properties, both near the spring and elsewhere.”

1929. At this time there are 2 churches, 3 stores, one garage, one hotel, one fish house, and about 43 houses in Hudson, according to the recollection of Eda Collum Hatcher, who arrived then. [In another interview, she said there were 32 homes.]

Feb. 19, 1932. The Dade City Banner reports, “In looking about we find only one vacant house in Hudson: by the way, a very nice one belonging to Mr. I. W. Hudson, former sheriff and present prospect. One new home, a cozy one, has been built on the south side by Mr. Herry Hinkle. The A. L. Hudson place is now occupied by Mr. Manaheim and family of Pennsylvania, who is a prospective buyer. We welcome good people to Hudson and there is still much vacant land. The recent marriages of Mr. Bartow Littell to Miss Esther DeHave of Lutz, and of Mrs. Beatrice Littell Scroggs to Mr. Stanley of Wesley Chapel, have been announced in the Banner, so we give them passing notice with best wishes.”

Feb. 18, 1938. The Methodist church, built just before the turn of the century on East Hudson Avenue and Guava Street is destroyed by fire. [The Baptists then offered the Methodist congregation the use of an old church which was later moved to the lot where their church had burned]

1940s. Hudson sends 54 men into military service during World War II. The families of C. P. Littell and Frank Lysek had six sons in service. Goree J. Equevilley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Romain Equevilley, died in a German hospital on June 10, 1945.

Jan. 23, 1943. Gulf Springs Lodge is destroyed by fire.

Feb. 16, 1944. A group of local women form the Victory Club to assist those serving in the war.

May 21, 1945. The Hudson School, which taught up to the seventh grade, is destroyed by fire

June 13, 1949. The Hudson Community Club holds its first meeting. [Officers elected were President, Mrs. A. J. Hatcher; Vice-President, Mrs. Geneva Green; Secretary, Mrs. George Bliss; Treasurer, Madeline Hatcher. In 1953 the club was incorporated with 74 charter members.]

Sept. 18, 1949. The new Hudson Baptist Church is dedicated.

Aug. 31, 1953. The Hudson post office is closed. [It was re-established in 1957.]

Dec. 24, 1953. The New Port Richey Press reports: “Street lights were installed this week in Hudson, on the Gulf. Hudson now has street lighting, telephone service, water system and other city conveniences. The purchase of the light fixtures and automatic switches was made possible by a fish fry and donations from the citizens of the community, with the cooperation of the Withlacoochee Rier Electric Co-op, who installed fixtures and switches. Seventeen lights were installed at this time, with automatic switches to operate them, lights will burn all night.”

1955. The “Welcome to Hudson-on-the-Gulf” sign is painted on a sunken fishing boat that had been raised and placed on a sturdy platform.

Aug. 24, 1955. The School Board votes to close Hudson School because of low enrollment.

1956. Victor M. (Bud) Clark begins digging a number of canals from the Gulf so that each homeside in his Hudson Beach Estates would front on the water

1956. The Hudson Community Water System is installed, with 56 members. The system consisted of a four-inch well pumping 60 gallons per minute, a 1,000-gallon pressure tank, and distribution lines

1957. The cemetery, in disrepair, is deeded to the Hudson Community Club

1957. Herschel Hudson begins work on Riviera Estates, digging a wide canal from the site of Hudson Marina to Main Street

Dec. 7, 1959. The U. S. 19 Volunteer Fire Department, Inc., holds its organizational meeting at the old fire hall at Hudson. The first elected officers were James Englhert, Richard Olson, Ed Rumminger, W. Jackson, and H. Fredfield.

1960. The public beach opens

Apr. 9, 1960. The first issue of the Hudson News, a mimeographed weekly newspaper, appears. [It was published by Jerry Fitzgerald, a teenager, and sold several hundred copies each week. Fitzgerald was called “Florida’s Youngest Editor.” Publication ceased in July 1962.]

1962. The Community Club purchases the closed schoolhouse for $2250.

May 24, 1962. Ground is broken for a new $495,000 General Telephone Co. building for the Hudson area.

Apr. 2, 1964. Sky Haven Airport, two miles north of Hudson, officially opens.

July 28, 1964. The Hudson Volunteer Fire Department, which replaced the U. S. 19 VFD, answers its first call. [More information is here.]

1966. Hudson Elementary School opens. [Classes at first were held in New Port Richey.]

July 11, 1968. The landmark green and red home of Romaine F. Equevilley (who had died earlier in the year) burns to the ground in an early morning fire.

1973. The Committee to Incorporate Hudson, chaired by Paul Kullman, proposes a city charter.

1975. Hudson High School opens in its own facility at Hudson. [The school actually began on July 9, 1973, with Hudson students attending in the afternoons in the Gulf High School building.]

August 1977. Pasco County absorbs the Hudson Volunteer Fire Department

March 1981. Bayonet Point-Hudson Medical Center opens

Sept. 14-15, 1985. The first Hudson Seafest is held

1985. Outlet World opens on U. S. Highway 19. [The mall was later renamed Bayonet Point Mall, but subsequently closed.]

1986. A new Hudson-Bayonet Point Post Office opens

1987. The landmark 130-foot water tower is taken down

Apr. 22, 1990. Hudson Regional Library opens

Mar. 25, 1998. The landmark Pete’s Corner Store is destroyed by an early morning blaze. [The building dated to 1958 and was formerly Bill Peek’s Corner Store.]

July 1, 2003. The Pasco County Commission approves a $2.1 million plan to dredge the Hudson Channel. [The work was done in 2005.]

Mar. 7, 2008. A 24-hour Wal-Mart Supercenter opens at 12610 U.S. 19, just north of Beacon Woods Drive, featuring a grocery store, Tire & Lube Express, a hair salon, SunTrust Bank branch and a restaurant.

Dec. 14, 2009. The Mike Fasano Regional Hurricane Shelter is dedicated. Gov. Charlie Crist attended.

June 24-26, 2012. Tropical Storm Debby causes extensive flooding in western Pasco County.

Oct. 1, 2017. The Hudson K-Mart closes.

Village of Hudson First Settled by Alabama Family

By D. B. McKAY

This article apppeared in the Tampa Tribune on Oct. 18, 1953.

The village known as Hudson on the Gulf Coast of Pasco County is one of the most picturesque and naturally beautiful on the Gulf Coast Scenic Highway No. 19, and it also has an interesting history—it was frequently the landing place of Confederate blockade-runners when the Federal navy had all of the principal ports on our coast closed during the Civil War, and it was suspected that it was a rendezvous for rum-runners and smugglers during the prohibition era.

Because access was difficult except by water there was little interference with these illicit operations. Nearby Bayport, however, was better known as a port used during the Civil War by blockade-runners and subsequently by evaders of the law.

Among the earliest settlers were the pioneer Hudson family, who left Alabama in 1868 in a caravan of covered wagons.

The only road in that section at the time was what was known as the Old Salt Road, so called because during the Civil War people from the interior came to the coast at that point to make salt, as the Yankees had all other sources of supply closed. The process of distilling salt from Gulf water was used at many points along the coast. Some West Pasco residents obtained their salt from Salt Springs behind Gulf View Mall.

In 1881, the people of the area got together and built a log school house. In chilly weather the children would build a fire in the schoolyard, as the cracks between the logs let plenty of cold air into the little building.

There was no place to hold religious services, so a pulpit was built in the old school house and that was used. The first sermon was preached by old “Uncle” Alderman Wilson. Services were held thereafter by circuit riders.

John Paul was running a schooner from Bayport to Cedar Keys, and he was induced to make Hudson a port of call. The settlers sold their produce and bought their supplies in Cedar Keys, as that was the only port on the Gulf then having a railroad.

A few years after the arrival of the earliest families a small fish business was established by Bush, Lang, Frierson, Knowles, Stevenson and Brady families. Fish were abundant in the adjacent waters, and the catches were large. The average price of roe mullet was one cent each. People would come from as far as fifty miles to buy fish which they would split, salt and pack in barrels. The average family would haul home five barrels. With the improvement of transportation and facilities for ice storage in the early 1900s, the fishing industry became the main interest by the Carl Hatchers and Knowles families.

I. W. Hudson, Sr., profited by the sale of produce in Cedar Keys to the extent that he was able to buy 200 acres of land from the state at $1.25 an acre, and he employed H. C. Bush to survey and plat the town site. About 1890 J. B. and William Hudson established the first general mercantile business in Hudson. Their building extended from the river bank to the great spring, the anchorage of the freight boats.

At the turn of the century, the Weeks brothers from Norman Park, Georgia, went into the turpentine business in the vicinity of Hudson. A tram road was built from Brooksville to Hudson to move turpentine and rosin to Hudson, whence it was moved to Tampa by boat. In 1905 the Brooksville and Hudson Railroad replaced the tram and regular service for passengers and freight was established. A spur was built to Fivay, three miles southeast of Hudson, where a small sawmill was operating. A short time later a group of Atlanta capitalists bought the small mill and replaced it with one of the largest mills in the state. This mill operated night and day for several years, until the timber supply was exhausted. This big industry had brought a lot of business to Hudson, and the town suffered a severe shock when the mill ceased operating. And when the railroad suspended service the businessmen of Hudson were greatly discouraged.

Between the First and Second World Wars Hudson had an important sponge fishing industry, using several boats and employing quite a number of men. Some of the boats and crews were from Key West, others locally owned and manned; they made Hudson their home port, as they worked on the sponge beds on the West Coast. The catch was sold at the sponge exchange in Tarpon Springs, and at the peak fifteen boats and sixty men were employed, with Hudson as their home port.

Then a blight struck the sponge beds, greatly reducing the catch; also, after the Second World War the importation of sponges from Greece upset the sale of sponges from waters in this vicinity.

The Gulf Coast Scenic Highway (Old 19) passes through Hudson. The highway is within sight of the Gulf at Hudson and is probably the most scenic and beautiful highway in the state. This highway and fine state road to the great springs have brought prosperity to Hudson.

The town is fast becoming a tourist resort and quite a number of houses have been built recently by retired people from harsher climes, who enjoy fishing, boating and sea bathing.

A recent acquisition is a large general store, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Hatcher, and an attractive eating place has been oopened by Herb and Sally Ruland.

The old residents feel that Hudson is now launched on a substantial and permanent wave of prosperity.

(The data for this article was supplied by Mr. and Mrs. Hershell Hudson.)

The harbor at Hudson, about 1910

The Beach and Canals

The following is excerpted from The Story of Hudson, Florida (1973), by Harry G. Miller.

Fifty or sixty years ago, there were very few recreational facilities in small towns and rural areas. Sometimes the kids would lay out a rough baseball diamond in a vacant field, but one other means of diversion was to be found in almost every community – the old swimming hole. This might be an abandoned quarry, which had filled up with water, or a creek or other running stream. Here the youngsters, mostly boys, gathered in warm weather for a dip.

Soon after the first retirees moved into Hudson, some of them began to talk about the need for a beach. This was probably prompted by their recollection of the swimming holes of their youth and by the inevitable pictures used to promote Florida which always show sunny beaches crowded with beautiful girls.

And the agitation for a beach was supported by many old-time residents of Hudson as the real estate developers were tearing up and filling in their bathing spots along the coast and in the rivers and inlets. Among the first to go was the Hudson Springs area and after that the island across from the docks which was popular with bathers and picnickers. Both had been used for many years.

Hudson Springs was located in the heart of the original settlement and was the source of a small river named after the Hudson family. For many years the townspeople had gone there either to swim or for other recreational purposes. It was often the scene of family picnics, and many of the town’s civic functions such as fish fries and barbecues were held at the Springs.

Before Hudson Beach was developed, there was a small island which lay a few hundred yards south of the railroad terminus. The Hudson River flowed between the two places, although it was not as wide as the canal that is there now. To reach the swimming and picnic area it was necessary to row a boat the short distance across the river. As far as can be determined, the island was located in that section where Harbor Drive makes its last bend toward the west.

As more and more people built homes in Hudson, there was no place available for them to paddle around in the water or lie in the sand in all of Pasco County. As a matter of fact this condition still exists except for the public facilities which were finally built in Hudson.

When Bud Clark began to develop Hudson Beach Estates, he promised the community that he would donate a section of Gulf frontage for recreational purposes; but very little progress was made toward constructing it. Then Tom Sawyer and the Community Club became interested in the project. After this action a long discouraging and frustrating fight was waged to do something about the matter. Month after month it came up for discussion at the meetings. There were alternating periods of good news and bad. Many citizens became convinced that the beach would never be built.

Finally because of some vague promises and partial commitments, it was announced that the state of Florida would build a state park on the site that would be made available by the developer. The people of the community in their wildest dreams had never hoped for anything as grand as this. But their elation was short-lived.

For some months after this announcement, plans for the beach were laid aside as an equally important problem was now presenting itself Any facility, especially a state park, would have to have a good road running to it. Sawyer began a pitch to have Florida build a road from US 19 to the area that had been designated for the park. At that time A. L. Rogero of Tampa was a member of the State Road Board from his district. He seemed to be sympathetic to the plan for a road and park, but, apparently, he had trouble convincing the other members of the Board that the Highway was needed.

Tom Sawyer worried Rogero by telephone and in person. There were almost daily communications between them. At last it was announced that 4200 feet of road would be built. According to the engineers it would require 35,000 cubic yards of fill, and the public was asked to contribute as much of this as possible. A story appeared in one of the newspapers in which it was stated that the residents of Hudson were so eager to assist “that they went about the countryside offering to dredge out artificial lakes for the landowners so that they could use the dirt which would be taken to the road site.”

And then the question of the right of way came up. Those persons who owned the land over which the road was to be constructed readily donated the necessary footage. From highway 19 to Main Street the donors were: The Oakes, Leslie Knowles, L. McKeehan and Ed Boore. From Main Street to the Gulf the land was given by Bud Clark and Herschel Hudson. It would pass between Hudson Beach Estates and Riviera Beach which were being developed by these two men. The former by Clark and the latter by Hudson. Soon after this work was started. The road ended at a point near the Gulf Sunset Apartments or where Lonnie Lee Lane branches off from dark Street.

Those people now living in this area will never know how hard the few persons then living here worked to have the highway built. This project was another example of how Hudson became known as the Do-It-Yourself town. In its way it was as important to the community as the four-laning of U. S. 19 became in 1972.

And now Hudson had a road leading to a beach which did not exist. For a time it appeared as if it was to be one of those highways which leads to nowhere, especially after the state announced that it would not build a park on a tract of land of less than six acres. The developer agreed to donate only one-third of that amount, although it had been previously understood that more than six acres would be set aside for a beach.

It was time for Tom Sawyer to put on his fighting clothes again. On this occasion he arranged for the developer and the Pasco County officials to get together. They haggled for months, but the facility was completed in 1960. There was also cooperation from local citizens, clubs, businessmen and the water works. The latter ran a line to the beach and rest rooms were put up by the Community Club. Three picnic shelters, 12 by 24 feet in size, were erected by local realtors – one by Gulfside Realty Co. and two by Warrick’s Real Estate.

At the time the road was completed to the present junction of Clark Street and Lonnie Lee Lane there was nothing beyond that point except water and a few piles of rock and sand which had been dredged from the Gulf. Newcomers may be surprised to learn that west and south of that area there were only sawgrass swamps which were inundated at high tide. This section was eventually filled in as far south as Signal Cove.

It has been said that Tom Sawyer never got his feet wet at the beach and that he thought that water was good only for drinking, washing clothes, flushing toilets and a medium in which fish swam. But he nagged the state until a road was built and then the developer and county until a beach was constructed. He dreamed of a small city springing up here and he felt that a beach would be a valuable asset.

Hudson beach is not the best in Florida and it is far too small. At the time it was built, people felt that it would serve the community for years to come. As in so many other matters, no one saw the tremendous growth which was in the offing. Nonetheless, it has been an asset to the community, not only for swimming and sunbathing but as a meeting place for small clubs and groups. In addition to its other advantages, Hudson Beach is a spot from which can be seen some of the most beautiful sunsets in the country.

Canal-living, which is now so common in areas bordering on the coasts of Florida, is surprising to those persons who are not familiar with the system of waterways which bring the waters of the ocean or the Gulf of Mexico inland for several miles in many places. It is difficult for them to picture the network of canals which bring salt water to the property of thousands of homeowners unless they see it in person or in an aerial photograph of a region in which this has taken place.

Water front living in Hudson has long been popular. The original settlers built their homes on or close to the Gulf or one of the many inlets which ran from it. It seems that running water fascinates people and they like to live close to it. Even on a dead-end canal the tides keep the water in motion. It also permits residents to tie up boats in their own back yards. Also it brings fishing and swimming closer to their homes, and canals cool the air in the summer and warm it in extremely cold weather.

There has been no actual measurement of the canals in the Hudson area, but a rough estimate places the total mileage from Leisure Beach to Sea Pines inclusive at twenty-five miles. Since practically all canals have building sites on both banks, there must be at least fifty miles of shore line on which houses can be built. It is estimated that there are more than 5000 building lots of this kind in the Hudson area, and houses are being erected on them at a rapid rate.

Scene at Hudson Beach, about 1961. Photo courtesy of Kathy Anderson.

Hudson Beach in 2006

Chronology of the United Methodist Church of Hudson

This article is taken from First United Methodist Church of Hudson: The First 100 Years, 1898-1998.

  • 1881 School house built in 1881 by the Hudson family. A movable pulpit was built in order that the building be used for Sunday services. Preacher assigned is unknown.
  • 1898 Register of the Hudson Methodist Episcopal Church, South, states that Rev. J. M. Mitchell was appointed by the Conference on December 18, 1898, as pastor of the church. A Methodist church was constructed on about this date at East Hudson and Guava St.
  • 1899 The Register states that Rev. M. T. Bell followed Rev. Mitchell and served until December 17, 1900.
  • 1900 The Register states that Rev. Tom McMullon served until December 1901.
  • 1902 Rev. W. F. Fletcher served for one year
  • 1903 Rev. R. H. Barnett served for one year
  • 1904 Rev. W. H. F. Roberts served for one year
  • 1905 Rev. K. M. Albright served for one year
  • 1906 Rev. K. D. Jones served for one year
  • 1907 Rev. J. M. Dieffenwierth served for one year
  • 1908 The Reverends Combs, Willis and Mitchell shared the preaching assignment from December 1908 until December 1909
  • 1909 Rev. J. D. Frierson served from December 1909 – 1911. Here in the old Register, the record of pastors ends

The below information was taken from “Local Church History” form filed by the First United Methodist Church of Hudson with the Archives and History of Florida Conference July 1984.

  • 1919 New Port Richey was removed from the Elfers Charge and placed in the Tarpon Springs Mission on December 1919
  • 1922 New Port Richey, Elfers and Hudson comprised a charge
  • 1922 The Ocala District included Elfers, New Port Richey and Hudson in one circuit
  • 1922 Rev. C. C. Tyler was appointed to the circuit for this year and made his home in Elfers
  • Sunday, November 9, 1923, the three churches in the circuit gathered at Elfers for a Rally Day Service. Rev. C. C. Tyler held his regular service Sunday morning after which “dinner on the ground” was served. In the afternoon, they were entertained by the orchestra of Clearwater Methodist Sunday School.
  • 1923 Rev. W. R. Howell served the circuit and arrived on December 28, 1923. His schedule was Elfers the second and fourth Sundays at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Hudson on the first and third Sundays at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; New Port Richey every Sunday at 3 p.m.
  • 1924 Elfers was placed in the Odessa Circuit and New Port Richey and Hudson were put together in the New Port Richey Circuit.
  • 1925 Elfers was added to the New Port Richey circuit which now included Hudson, Odessa, Lake Fern, Keystone, Elfers and New Port Richey churches. Rev. P. S. Anderson was appointed to this charge and chose to live in the New Port Richey parsonage. Rev. Leroy E. Roberts was sent to assist with the five churches in the circuit. Elfers was considered as supply church at this time. Following the crash of Wall Street in 1929, the Elfers church struggled and this led to the closing of the church finally in 1940
  • 1928 The Conference abolished the Elfers charge in June 1928 and added Odessa, Lake Fern, Keystone to the New Port Richey Charge along with Hudson and Elfers.
  • 1929 Rev. A. C. Riviere came to this circuit and served it for two and a half years ending in December 1931 when the Conference year was extended form June to December of that year. The New Port Richey circuit was removed from the Ocala District and placed in the Tampa District.

Hudson Fish House, 1950. Photo courtesy of Michelle McLaughlin.

Notes on Gulf Springs Lodge

Gulf Springs Lodge in Hudson On Dec. 3, 1926, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported, “The hotel property on the gulf here, known as the Moseley property, has been sold and will be remodelled and opened for sportsmen. The sale was made by Mrs. Genie Moseley, of Tampa, to Dr. Edgar, of Montreal, through J. C. Mitcham, of Hudson. The property consists of a large house and three-fourths of an acre.”

On Jan 14, 1927, the Dade City Banner reported that work was progressing rapidly on the remodeling of the Gulf Springs Lodge in Hudson and that Dr. C. J. Edgar, the new owner, has announced that it will be opened Feb. 1 as a fisherman’s and hunter’s lodge.

On Mar. 2, 1927, the Tarpon Springs Leader reported:

Sunday morning at Hudson was an eventful day for the small town for it was the day that their first hotel opened its doors. Several weeks ago the citizens were astonished to hear that Dr. Edgar, who had come to Florida from Montreal, had acquired possession of the old hotel property and much outlying land. Many were the suggestions as to why he had come to this little town to open a hunting lodge, ant he good Doctor’s friends intimated to him that there were better ways of spending money, but nothing daunted the new owner, who is a Florida boater if there ever was one. Florida has given him health since last September and here he is going to stay.

He went ahead with his plans and a crew of workmen transformed the abandoned building into a most attractive lodge, a water system in which the town folks participated was installed and now has a light system; so he has made possible all city conveniences, and Sunday when he opened his new hotel more than a hundred hungry folks were clamoring for dinner. The dinner was all they could expect and the day was spent on the gulf, or in the delightful walks about the hotel. It only proves the old adage if you can supply what the people want they will beat a track to your door.

On March 4, 1927, the Dade City Banner reported:

A start has been made to provide hotel accommodations with the purchase by Major Edgar, a retired British army medical officer, of the old boarding house erected when Hudson was a shipping port, and which for years has been standing abandoned. This building has been remodeled and made over into a most attractive little hotel, comfortably furnished with modern conveniences, bath rooms and toilets between every two rooms, electric lights, running water, and so forth.

A cuisine, of which Lucullus himself might be proud to partake, and in which fresh fish from the neighboring waters is a feature, is provided for the sustenance of his guests. Gulf Springs Lodge, as the hotel is called, is small, and to care for the overflow Major Edgar is remodeling another old building as an annex and tea room. Boats for navigating the nearby waters are provided, and arrangements have been made with fishermen of the community to furnish launches and act as guides for those who wish to try their skill with the denizens of the outside waters.

Major Edgar is not content, however, with simply developing his own property, and has extended his operations to providing needed conveniences for the community as a whole. Good water is more or less difficult to find close to the coast, and Hudson has faced this handicap along with many much larger cities. One of Major Edgar’s first acts, after deciding to locate in Hudson, was to secure a franchise for a waterworks and electric light plant. He sunk two wells on a high point some distance inland, installed a Kohler automatic generator and Duro pumps capable of lifting 900 gallons of water a minute, laid mains, and now not only has an abundance of clear, pure, sweet tasting water for his own use, but supplies it for all the other residents of the community who desire to avail themselves of the convenience at a most reasonable rate.

On April 26, 1927 the Banner reported that the lodge had been leased for the summer by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Keene.

On Dec. 16, 1927, the Banner reported, “Anent the advance of Hudson, remembering that it is a small place, there has been within perhaps a year and a half just past, the reconstruction of the old Mosely hotel into an up-to-date and charming place—Gulf View Lodge, with its beautiful grounds surrounding the spring which has been walled in. The grounds have been filled in and planted with lawn grass.”

On Apr. 13, 1928, the New Port Richey Press reported that Gulf Springs Lodge was under the management of the new lessees, Mr. and Mrs. Alf Kuhlman, formerly of Brooksville. It also reported that a new tennis court will be completed in a few days, as will also a splendid bathing beach and a wharf for the convenience of the guests of the lodge.

On Apr. 26, 1929, the New Port Richey Press reported that Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long recently stayed at Gulf Springs Lodge.

On Jan. 31, 1930, the New Port Richey Press reported that S. A. Glass was manager of the Lodge.

On Apr. 27, 1934, the New Port Richey Press reported that J. M. Glass was manager of the Lodge.

The lodge was destroyed by fire on January 23, 1943.

Hudson Beach Area Turns 50 Years Old

Hudson Beach Estates This article appeared in the Suncoast News on July 29, 2006.


HUDSON – Life’s a beach – or at least it has been over five decades of history for the Hudson area’s first waterfront subdivision.

Frances Mallett, a treasure trove of trivia as the unofficial historian for the Port Richey area and West Pasco in general, knows a good deal about Hudson Beach, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

That’s not too surprising, since seven generations of her family were born here and Mallett’s relatives were influential in creating the first waterfront subdivision along the Hudson coast, Hudson Beach Estates.

The concept blossomed from a rough sketch on the back of a piece of paper by V. M. “Bud” Clark Jr., Frances’ brother.

Walter Mallett, Frances’ husband, and Clark’s wife, Celida, a registered real estate broker, were there from the beginning as well.

A free fish fry in the spring of 1956 introduced Hudson Beach Estates to the public, “Pasco County’s first gulf front subdivision,” the development’s sales brochure trumpeted at the time.

The beach itself would come a bit later, by 1959. After building most of a road to the gulf-front site, the state decided the area was too small to become a state park.

Pasco County inherited the project and finished the public beach. It is now part of what is known as Robert J. Strickland Memorial Park. The park was renamed in honor of Bob Strickland, for a number of years the Hudson-area manager of Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative and a local community booster who died in 1997.

The claim to fame for the Hudson Beach development was that all 850 homesites lined the water, either along the gulf or along canals.

Trout fishing was a lure. “Some of the best fishing waters in Florida are here,” developers wrote in brochures. Hunting was mentioned, too.

A companion mobile home village. Vista Del Mar, offered another 350 residential sites. “You can fish at your own door (and) tie your bow-line to your door knob,” as the brochure bragged.

The publicity materials also mention Martha’s Vineyard, “an exclusive, restricted waterfront development of some 132 home sites” just to the south within Port Richey city limits.

For inspiration to name the streets of the new subdivision, Bud Clark looked no farther than his family. That explains the origins of Lonnie Lee Lane, Yvette Drive, Allan Way, Debbie Lane and other street names.

The main road, however wouldn’t become Clark Street until later. Earliest diagrams simply list it as “State Road,” eventually earning the designation 595-A.

So, just how much would a waterfront lot set you back in 1956?

Basic lots were going for $1,595 – comparable to about $11,000 in 2006 inflation-adjusted dollars – while premium lots started at $2,495. Later ads mentioned homes themselves started at $9,750. Sounds like a steal, right?

But that was a pretty penny back in the 1950s, nonetheless, since people could “join the hundreds of families who have already chosen Moon Lake for their future retirement home” on lots costing $250 apiece, according to an ad at the time. Moon Lake Development Corp. required $25 down and $5 monthly payments, by the way.

Indeed, the era seemed quite quaint compared to the hustle and bustle of today’s computer age.

Back then, the Maas Brothers department store was advertising a Royal portable typewriter in its own case, the 1950s equivalent of a laptop computer.

To get information on the subdivision, people had to dial only a 4-digit phone number, 6911

Lusting for an iPod portable music player that fits in your pocket? Forget about it! Newspaper ads at the time showed a supposedly portable LP record player so bulky it required a sturdy table to hold it.

Ford was bragging about its latest cars that were so roomy all passengers could keep their hats on with ease. “Every seat has full-depth springing and cushioning in a Ford.” Even then, the carmaker noted fuel economy. “You can expect to save as much as $1 on every tank of gas” because Fords liked regular gas just fine, compared to the pricier, premium gas called “ethyl” at the time.

While sales of lots for homes went rather briskly for the fledgling Hudson Beach Estates, some turmoil surrounded development of the beach itself.

In fact, Clark took out a full-page newspaper ad on Feb. 13, 1958, to put to rest various rumors.

“To the Citizens of Pasco County, the beach at Hudson will be built,” the ad read.

Clark recalled Tom Sawyer, president of Hudson Community Club, and others had approached him to donate about three to five acres for the public beach. Clark agreed on the condition the state would pay to build the road to the beach.

Once the main road was built for some $75,000, the state seemed to lose interest in the beach project. Plus the road dead-ended short of the beach park area.

“This has been dragging on for three years and I am getting a lot of adverse publicity by word of mouth and the press,” Clark said in the ad. “We are definitely going to have a beach, even if a small one at the expense of the development,” Clark concluded.

The county broke the deadlock by July 1958 when it took over the deed to the site. The county then extended the road and began hauling in fill dirt to create the beach. Hudson Community Club was instrumental in helping the county see the project through.

One interesting note emerges from newspaper accounts in 1958. The county at the time had no central road department. Each county commissioner had his own road crews and budget and kept his own records. About $250,000 total in road funds was divided among the five commissioners to do with as they saw fit.

By February 1959, photos in the Tampa Tribune showed that dredges had kicked into high gear to build up the public beach.

Excitement was building among residents because the closest beach at the time was in the Clearwater-Dunedin area, Mallett recalls.

“At first Hudson beach was so rocky you couldn’t hardly walk on it,” Mallett said about the coarse limerock base.

The same newspaper report mentioned the population of the area had boomed from 150 to more than 1,000 over a few, short years. Some 200 fishermen were flocking to the area on weekends.

A side effect of development shrunk the commercial fishing fleet.

Tom Sawyer from the Hudson Community Club, quoted in another article in early 1959, had recalled how Hudson had been a small, but important, commercial fishing village since Civil War days.

Only five commercial fishermen remained based in Hudson by 1959, compared to 30 fishermen only six years earlier.

Prior to World War II, Hudson even boasted a fleet of sponge fishermen, Sawyer had pointed out.

By late 1959, though, the destiny of the area was altered forever when the public beach finally took shape.

The Hudson post office in 1939; the Hudson-Bayonet Point post office in 2006

The Story of Pasco County’s Pioneer Hudson Family

This article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on June 8, 1952.

By D. B. McKAY

This interesting and well-written history of a prominent family of Pasco County pioneers was sent in by Mrs. Emily Larkin, the Tribune’s Dade City correspondent. That the writer has done a thorough job is immediately evident—not only has she presented the story of the Hudsons and their part in the early development of the adjoining county, but she cites the names of other pioneer citizens deserving of a place on the honor roll. For instance, A. J. Burnside, who held the office of clerk of the Circuit Court for nearly a half century, and who was succeeded on his voluntary retirement by his son.

Here is the story of the Hudsons:

Ex-Sheriff I. W. Hudson, who has lived for 81 years within the present boundaries of Pasco County, has a fund of recollections and anecdotes to delight the heart of any historian of this section.

Among his memories are early childhood days in a wild and fertile countryside where the settlers had to fight the deer out of their sweet potato patches; boyhood days aboard sailboats that carried freight and passengers from the Anclote River to Cedar Keys; years of Pasco politics, and the satisfaction of accomplishing what he had set out to do, when as sheriff he rid Pasco County of a band of notorious cattle thieves.

I. W. Hudson was named for his father, Isaac Washington Hudson, who came from Alabama in 1868, and after a year or so in Madison County brought his family to Pasco, then a part of Hernando. The rich hammock land he cleared was near a small settlement then called Chipco, later becoming part of the present Blanton community in the northeastern part of the county.

I. W. Hudson, the seventh of eight sons, was born at Chipco in 1870. He remembers the log school house with split pine benches where school was held three months of the year. His teacher was a Mr. Benson He remembers attending church at the old Mount Zion Methodist Church, on the site west of Dade City where the Mount Zion cemetery is still located. This church building. with a Masonic lodge room overhead, was important in the life of the Ft. Dade community which preceded the town of Dade City.

I. W. Hudson, Sr., and his older boys planted corn, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, peas and peanuts, not only to feed the family but to produce good hog meat, which was really their main crop. Once or twice a year, their wagon loaded with cured meat and lard, with other wagons from the neighborhood, made the three or four day trip to Tampa, the travelers pitching camp at night.

About the only food supplies that came back from Tampa to the Hudson home were a barrel of flour and a supply of coffee The unspoiled and unfertilized land yielded plenty of food. Part of the corn crop was used to harden the peanut and chufa fed hogs, and the rest carried to the nearby grist mill to become meal and grits for the family. Sheriff Hudson says he remembers having to take off the gable end of a corn crib to get in a bumper crop.

Cane was grown for sugar and syrup, as well as stock feed. They even grew rice on the lower land. The sheriff remembers stacks of big pumpkins his father piled in rail fence corners to throw on the ground for the hogs. They didn’t have to call the hogs, the sound of bursting pumpkin would bring them on the run.

He remembers being sent one day with one of his brothers to his sister’s home, to bring back one of the wild turkeys which his brother-in-law trapped in a baited pen, and the indignant fuss those seven big turkeys made over being trapped. Wild turkey meat, however, was no rare article of food, as the farmers had a lot of trouble keeping wild turkeys from destroying the blossoms in their bean and pea patches.

Besides plenty of turkey, deer and other game for the table, and home-grown pork, his mother kept chickens, and they had a few milk cows. Asked if they didn’t eat mighty well in those days, Sheriff Hudson agreed, with a reminiscent grin, that they surely did. But he added that the more balanced diets of today are a good idea—that children in those days were sometimes sallow for lack of fresh vegetables, as well as from malaria.

Chills and fever from the undrained swamps and bayheads around Chipco, and the father’s bronchial trouble, caused the Hudson family to seek the salt air of the Gulf. In 1877, when young Ike Hudson was seven years old, they trekked to a new frontier in a two-horse wagon with the boys driving the milk cows ahead of the team.

For their new home they chose some high ground not far from an inlet of the Gulf and near the large spring which is still the center of the Hudson community. When they first arrived only the J. T. Hay and Bill Lang families were settled in the stretch of land between Hudson and Brooksville.

Young Ike wasn’t bothered with school for a couple of years. By that time his father and brothers and the Lang and Frierson families had built a one-room school house. He recalls that in chilly weather the youngsters warmed by a lightwood knot fire in the school yard, as cracks between the logs let plenty of cold into the heatless building. With the addition of a pulpit the cabin doubled for a church, with preaching by circuit riders, and by a Dr. Ray of the Pasadena section, who were guests at the Hudson home.

It wasn’t long until young Ike was very much at home on the Gulf and familiar with sailing craft, the one-sailed sloop, two-sailed sharpey and the schooner. A man named Hall, from the Bayport settlement, ran some produce from the Hudson farm up to lively port of Cedar Keys on his sloop. Hudson, Sr., liked the sloop, traded Hall a couple of oxen for it, and an older son, J. B. Hudson, took over the freight run to Cedar Keys, which was both deep water port and terminal of the nearest railroad. He marketed cured pork, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, and 30 gallon barrels of cane syrup. Tomatoes, a novelty at that time, which the Hudsons found grew well on their land, sometimes made up part of these cargoes, often sold as provisions for the ships anchored at Cedar Keys.

Young Ike went along every chance he got, and at 14 was a regular member of the two-man crew. He saw deep water freighters from Key West, the West Indies, and even from Spain in the Cedar Keys harbor, most of them after cedar.

Once J. B. Hudson, sailing alone, was caught by a hurricane on the homeward trip, and forced into Bayport, where he anchored safely. His anxious family had no way of knowing that, and had given him up for lost, when he finally arrived safe and sound. The storm, from the northeast, had blown back the Gulf waters and left the sloop sitting in the sand. He had to wait until the Gulf came back to his boat.

Sometimes the Hudson sloop was loaded with oranges from early Pasco County groves. Dr. Alexander and Jim O’Berry brought two-horse wagon loads from their groves near Chipco, and the Hancock family brought them from the Townsend House settlement. Sheriff Hudson remembers Jim O’Berry, father of the late Edwin O’Berry a school superintendent, arriving on one of those trips at the Hudson home with such a bad cold he couldn’t talk. As both O’Berry and the elder Hudson were great talkers this was an intolerable state of affairs, and the sheriff says his father set in to cure his friend – and succeeded – with half-teaspoonful doses of pepper sauce at half-hour intervals.

When Captain Richey, founder of Port Richey, arrived to settle at the mouth of the ‘Cootie River, he bought a sharpey, a two-master, to use as a freighter on the Anclote-Cedar Keys run. Frank Hudson, another brother of the sheriff, operated this boat for Richey.

When in 1885 the railroad was built from Wildwood to Tampa, and the Tampa Northern was built between Tampa and Brooksville, with a spur from Fivay Junction to Hudson, the days of coastwise shipping by sail were numbered, and soon this colorful period of Florida’s Gulf history was over.

In the meantime young Ike had seen the beginning of the sponge crawls put up by the Conch spongers from Key West. These Key West sponge boats sometimes put into Hudson’s landing for provisions, and the Hudson boys were well acquainted with the crews. It was not until much later that the Greek sponge divers came to the bayou where Tarpon Springs now stands. Until then the Key Westers had hooked sponges with long poles, sometimes as long as forty feet, holding glass-bottomed buckets over the water to locate the sponges.

One of young Hudson’s earliest tasks was to ride horseback after mail every Sunday, inland some seven miles to Worley Prairie, which he believes was approximately the present site of Moon Lake ranch, and where the mail was brought weekly by horse and buggy from Brooksville to the postmaster, old Mr. Worley, who lived there alone. After 1880 these trips were unnecessary, for a post office was established in the Hudson home, and the community was designated “Hudson” by the Post Office Department, although Mr. Hudson’s choice for a name had been “Hudson’s Landing.” The mail still came from Brooksville by horse and buggy, the mailman, who Sheriff Hudson remembers as Dan Whitten, driving on 15 miles south to the Anclote post office at the mouth of the Anclote River.

Young Hudson’s father and brothers got into the commercial fishing business, and during the September-November season he often sat up all night “butchering” mullet for the customers, who sometimes came from as far as Sumter and Polk counties, or even from Orlando, driving over the wood trails in buggies or wagons. He said the buyers paid 25 cents a hundred for this chore, and did their own cleaning, and that he remembers the mullet selling for a penny. Mullet made up a good part of his diet in those days, and he said that the more he ate the better he liked them. In addition to smoked mullet, his mother often pickled mullet to last through the year.

Another of I. W. Hudson’s boyhood jobs was helping his father “cowpen” Lykes cattle from the first of April to the first of July. His father profited by getting the fertilizer, which he needed on land that was not so rich as that at Chipco, and Dr. Lykes in turn had some of his cattle already penned for marking and branding. Farmers who penned the Lykes cattle also had the right to get milk—if they could.

Sheriff Hudson recalls that Dr. H. T. Lykes, Sr. father of the famous ship-building and cattle-raising family, had cattle roaming from Springhill, Hernando County, where he lived, as far sought as Anclote, and maybe farther. Dr. Lykes told his father that he wanted enough cows so that when he was out in the woods and saw cow tracks he would know they were Lykes cows.

While Hudson was still a boy the store put up by his older brothers, J. B. and J. W., at the spring in Hudson was robbed and burned to the ground, the thieves presumably coming by boat. Afterwards M. L. Mosely from Mississippi built a store and later the large frame hotel at the spring, which burned only a few years ago.

I. W. Hudson, at twenty years old, determined to get more schooling than circumstances had thus far permitted, spent some time in the Fort Dade community where he stayed with relatives, the J. L. Fortner family, and attended a school at Clear Lake, now Lake Jovita.

The sheriff vividly recalls an unpleasantly exciting two or three years while he was a young man living at Hudson, and the Whitten-Stevenson feud that caused five deaths, was raging in that section. Almost everyone carried guns, and weren’t certain when they went out at night if they would ever get home alive. He remembers a visitor to the neighborhood getting pretty nervous over the situation and declaring that he “wouldn’t stay in that place overnight if they deeded him a square mile of it.”

When he was 25, I. W. Hudson married Miss Nettie E. Hay, whom he had known since she was three years old. She was the eldest daughter of the J. T. Hay who had pioneered on the Gulf between Hudson and Aripeka, and operated a cedar camp. The young couple at first lived at Hudson, later moving to Elfers. They had three sons, Elzie, Bernard and Leon. Elzie Hudson now lives in Tampa, Bernard in West Palm Beach, and Leon Hudson is Dade City’s chief of police.

Ike Hudson traded 38 head of cattle to his father-in-law for a grove on the ‘Cootie river near New Port Richey. His and his family’s groves were practically ruined by the big freeze, but Hudson stayed in the grove business caring for some of the many new groves set out in that section. He was in the grove business with his brother-in-law, the late Senator J. M. Mitchell of Elfers, when he was first elected sheriff in 1916.

Sheriff Hudson began his political career at the age of 35, when he was elected county commissioner from the west coast district. His brother, J. B. Hudson, had been the first commissioner from that district when Pasco was cut off from Hernando County. It was the sheriffs office, however, that I. W. Hudson was really interested in; because he explains he never liked to see a wrong-doer not only get by with his misdeeds but brag about it. He declined to run for commissioner a second time.

Getting elected sheriff wasn’t easy for a candidate from a small west coast settlement, with the bulk of the population around Dade City, and Ike Hudson was defeated twice by Bart D. Sturkie, the fourth sheriff of Pasco County; the second time by only forty-eight votes. On his third try he was elected.

Now he had a chance at the cow thieves, the notorious Tucker gang, with headquarters at Richland, who had operated in the county for years and got by scot-free. Sheriff Hudson took office in January, 1917, and at the spring term of circuit court the six main members of the gang were indicted. The sheriff says they couldn’t believe their luck was over and were lounging calmly around the court house yard when he came out with the capiases.

“Go get your dinner, Sheriff,” one of the Tuckers told him, “and we’ll have our bonds ready by the time you get back.”

Sheriff Hudson isn’t one to waste words. He simply said, “Come on, boys,” and before they knew it the six invincible cow thieves were behind bars.

Although the Tuckers and their attorneys were able to prevent their cases from ever coming to trial here, they decided that with Hudson as sheriff Pasco County was too warm for comfort, and by the end of his first term the sheriff had the satisfaction of knowing that the gang had left Pasco County for good, and organized cattle stealing in Pasco was over.

The Hudson-Sturkie political feud was renewed at the end of Hudson’s first term, with Sturkie victorious. At the end of another four years Hudson made a smashing comeback against his veteran opponent, and was sheriff for another full term. Now, instead of cattle thieves he had the bootleggers and moonshiners of the prohibition era to contend with. He was as straight-forward and uncompromising about upholding the law with the one as he had been with the other.

The role of a thorough-going law enforcement officer in prohibition days didn’t tend to make one the most popular of politicians, and Hudson was defeated at the end of this term. C. E. Dowling was elected sheriff; and I. W. Hudson, with the knowledge that he had won his principal battles, retired from the political battlefield.

Sheriff Hudson will tell you that of all his life’s experiences he enjoyed best his two terms as sheriff; and the many citizens who are acquainted with his life and his character will tell you that the county was very fortunate that I. W. Hudson spent eight years in the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff, his brother, A. L. Hudson, of Hudson, and his sister, Mrs. J. A. Mobley, of Dade City, are the youngest and only living members of a family of eight boys and three girls. An elder sister, Mrs. W. L. Osborne of Dade City, died about five years ago at the age of 96. I. W. Hudson neither looks nor acts his 81 years. He until recently operated his 1200-head poultry farm near Dade City. He and his wife now live at their pleasant home on South 14th Street, Dade City.

Sheriff Hudson, tall, erect and silvery-haired, is often seen at community gatherings, at church or with a group of old friends discussing politics. He and the county grew up together, and he feels a vital interest in its affairs.

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