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Guide to the Ludington Family Papers

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Susan Kriete

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 08, 2016
Description is in English

Biographical/Historical note

This is a collection of family papers from the descendants of William Ludington, the patriarch of the Ludington family in America. William Ludington emigrated from England and settled in the Massachusetts Bay colony sometime around 1639. The first family member represented in these papers is Henry Ludington (1739-1817), who gained some renown for his involvement in the American Revolution. He served as Colonel of the 7th Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia and was aide to Washington at the Battle of White Plains. He also served as a member of the New York Assembly in the 1770's and 1780's.

Henry Ludington's oldest daughter, Sybil, also played a role in Revolutionary events, one that earned her fame as a female Paul Revere. According to a 1907 article by her great-nephew, Connecticut historian Louis S. Patrick, 16-year-old Sybil Ludington rode about forty miles through the night of 26 April 1777 to warn the militiamen under her father's command that the British were burning Danbury, Connecticut. Although Colonel Ludington's troops arrived too late to save Danbury, they fought with British troops as they left the area. After the war, Sybil Ludington married Edward Ogden and they had one child. There is a small amount of material relating to Sybil Ludington and the Ogden family included in the collection.

The bulk of the collection relates to the family of Lewis Ludington, Henry Ludington's sixth son and youngest child. Lewis Ludington was born in Fredericksburg, New York, on June 25, 1786. With his brother Frederick, Lewis ran a general store near their home. He married Polly Townsend and in 1816, they moved to the village of Carmel. Although Carmel remained the family homestead, in the 1830's Lewis and his nephew, Harrison Ludington, bought land in Wisconsin and formed in Milwaukee the general mercantile firm of Ludington, Burchard & Co. Harvey Burchard, also of Carmel, retired a year or two later, and the firm became Ludington & Company. One of the foremost businesses in Milwaukee, Ludington and Co. also owned docks there, and had lumber mills at Oconto. About 1843, Lewis bought a tract of land in Columbia County, which he subsequently laid out as the town of Columbia. He was prominently involved in the development of the city until his death in 1857.

Lewis and Polly had nine children. The most represented in this collection is their fifth child, Charles Ludington. Charles was born at Carmel, New York, on February 1, 1825. In 1842, he became a clerk in a wholesale dry-goods store in New York, and later was a partner in the firm of Lathrop, Ludington & Company. One of the leading dry-goods firms of New York, the business was located first on Cortlandt Street, and later on Park Row. Like others in its field, the firm did a considerable amount of business with the Southern states before the Civil War. A strong Union supporter, Charles contributed to recruiting and equipping troops in New York City and Putnam County, but hired a substitute to serve for him as a soldier. He was involved with many civic and cultural institutions in New York throughout his life.

Charles corresponded frequently with his younger brother, James Ludington. James was born at Carmel on April 18, 1827. In 1843, he went to Milwaukee to work in Ludington and Co., the firm founded by his father, Lewis Ludington. James also aided his father in founding the town of Columbus. He later acquired extensive sawmills on the Pere Marquette River, in Michigan, and founded the town of Ludington there.

The collection also includes some photograph albums of Charles' son, Charles Henry Ludington, Jr., and his wife Ethel Mildred Saltus.

More complete family history will be found in the Ludington-Saltus Records volume, which is part of the collection.