A Talk With An Old Holyoker

by Laurel | May 27th, 2009

Published by the Springfield Republican, May 27, 1900

A Talk With An Old Holyoker
On Times That Have Gone By.
Gilson Judd, Who Celebrated His 86th Birthday the Past Week

Gilson Judd

Gilson Judd

The old Capt Miller tavern, as it was familiarly known, located not far from the head of what is now known as Beacon avenue on Northampton street, was torn down in 1873, it being succeeded by the house on the present location, built by Gilson Judd. Mr. Judd, however, was for many years a tenant of the old Capt. Miller house, coming into possession of it in 18578, and making it his home until the erection of the new house in 1873. Thursday of this week Mr. Judd celebrated his 86th birthday by a pleasant reunion of his immediate descendants at the home of his son, C. C. Judd near by. Mr. Judd is, as he says, very fortunate in having his children near by. Besides C. C. Judd, who lives but a step away, Dwight O. Judd, well-known in the insurance business and Holyoke’s recently elected assessor, lived next door; and Mr. Judd of the form of Judd & Parsons of your city is soon to move to Holyoke and live but a short distance away.

Gilson Judd was born in Northampton, the son of Eli Judd of that town. Both he and his father went west to Huntsburg, O., in 1837. After establishing themselves on farms, where they stayed for six or eight years, Gilson Judd came back with his wife for a visit. William Clark one of the wealthiest farmers in the valley, and Mr. Judd’s father-in-law had just bought a paper mill at Northampton, and wanted some one to run his large farm, and after some demurrings, Mr. Judd agreed to do so, and sold his western farmstead. Soon after his father-in-law bought a big tract of virgin forest on Mt. Tom, comprising about 700 acres. Mr. Judd then moved to Smith’s Ferry and attended to clearing this big tract of its heavy timber, and shortly after moved to Holyoke, eventually buying the Capt. Miller place in 1857.

The purchase of the Mt. Tom tract was just about the time of the erection of the big dam, so Mr. Judd missed much of the excitement of the early days when the news became known that the dam was to be build, and nearly all of the farmers found that they had sold their farms to a smooth-tongued agent of the company for what they were worth, instead of what they would likely have been worth had the news of the company’s plans preceded the purchase. He was on hand the morning after the dam went down stream, and remembers the crowds plainly. After his remove to Holyoke Mr. Judd bought about 34 acres on the east side of Northampton street and 10 acres on the west side. He paid just $150 an acre for it. Subsequently he sold it in parts at a comfortable advance in price. Originally his purchases extended to Nonotuck street, which gives an idea of the value of his land if he still owned it to-day. Strangely enough of all the heads of families that were living on Northampton street from Smiths Ferry to the West Springfield town line none are now left but Mrs. Chester Crafts and Gilson Judd — at least so far as he can determine.

On the opposite side of the Easthampton road from Mr. Judd lived good old Deacon Hervey Chapin, who lived there to the ripe age of 90 before he died, and Mr. Judd looks as though he might even beat that record. On the upper side George C. Ewing was his neighbor at first, although Mr. Ewing subsequently removed further down town. Nearby was Mr. and Mrs. Chester Crafts of “Crafts tavern” fame. Luther Fairfield lived some little distance above in the big white house still standing near the “big elm,” which Northampton street cars nearly scrape when they pass; this was the home of Mrs. William Whiting. Farther down lived Col. Ball, and others not far away were Russell Wood and S. H. Walker. Nearly all of these are now dead.

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