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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
John Brown Judson

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 252, 255-256 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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The Judson family, which today has a distinguished representative in the person of John Brown Judson of Gloversville, is one of the old Colonial families of English origin that contributed greatly to the settlement and development of New England and later of New York state. The line was established in this vicinity nearly two centuries ago, when Deacon Daniel Judson came to this section from Connecticut in 1740. He was then a mere boy, his birth having occurred in 1729. From him the line descended through his son Elisha, born in 1765, and his grandson, Elisha (II), born January 28, 1796. The son of Elisha (II), Hon. Daniel Bingham Judson, born in Kingsborough, New York, December 30, 1828, became the father of John Brown Judson, one of the leading citizens of Gloversville of the present day. His wife was Phoebe E. Judson, a native daughter of Northampton, New York, who was born January 9, 1831.

Hon. Daniel Bingham Judson, the father of the subject of our sketch, was one of Fulton county's leading citizens during his lifetime, as a business and public man. Professor Sprague of the Kingsboro Academy, in his "Gloversville History" (1859) [i.e., Horace Sprague, Gloversville, or the Model Village] said of him: "He had less to learn and less to unlearn than commonly befalls when he came to grapple with the duties of active life". He occupied prominent positions; was vice president of the Fulton County National Bank many years and recognized as a man of learning and wisdom. He was a fluent, forcible speaker, and often called forward on important occasions at home and abroad. He was a democrat, and his party's nominee for congress in 1872. In 1876 he was presidential elector on the ticket headed by Samuel J. Tilden for president, that carried New York state for the democracy. His business was the manufacture of gloves from 1851 until the time of his death; and during one period he was the largest glove manufacturer in the United States. He held fraternal affiliation with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was a devoted Christian and was ruling elder of the Kingsboro Presbyterian church for twoscore years.

In the many years that they have lived in Fulton county, the Judsons have always taken an active part in community affairs, as well as contributing to the general advancement of the district's welfare by their own successful private enterprises.

A typical representative of this line is found in John Brown Judson, veteran printer and stationer of Gloversville, successful real estate dealer and democratic leader. He was born August 20, 1861, in Kingsborough, his father's birthplace, which has since become a part of the city of Gloversville. His entire life has been spent in this community whose fortunes for years have been inseparably linked with his own. His education, begun in the common schools, was completed by courses in the Kingsborough Academy and the Williston Seminary of Easthampton, Massachusetts. At the early age of sixteen he became the proprietor of a job printing office in Gloversville, which he expanded into his present printing and stationery business, so that the establishment he now conducts has a continuous history covering nearly half a century, dating as it does from 1876. The glove manufacturing industry in Gloversville created a local demand for fine color work and specialties which the young printer was quick to seize upon as an opportunity for developing a business that has since been one of the main features of his establishment.

Meanwhile, as he developed his very considerable business and executive abilities and accumulated a little capital, the young man sought a wider field of opportunity than his printing and stationery business afforded him. Foreseeing the industrial expansion of his home city and its attendant growth in population, he determined to embark in the real estate business, specializing in residence property of a high type. He was instrumental in opening up and placing on the market a large tract of land, formerly used as farm land. This section, known as Judson Heights, became one of the most important of the various projects for developing Gloversville, and is today the leading residence district of the city, boasting many fine homes, while its main avenue, Kingsborough avenue, is without a rival for beauty. As president of the Judson Heights Realty Corporation, Mr. Judson controls a considerable amount of residential property in the eastern part of Gloversville and is a strong factor in the local real estate market. His experience in this line of work, dating from 1893, and his substantial success, have earned him a place among the leading realtors of this section and a reputation as a business man of the first rank.

Fortune was lavish in the gifts she bestowed upon John B. Judson. In addition to a talent for business affairs far beyond that of the average man, she gave him a marked aptitude for political life. He is well qualified to serve his party and the public generally in important official positions and in a public career covering thirty-six years he has never failed to live up to the expectations of his friends and political supporters. There is probably not a man in the democratic party in Fulton county so well known, nor so influential as Mr. Judson, whose reputation and political acquaintance has gone far beyond the borders of his home county. He began his career in political life in 1888, when he was elected delegate to the State Democratic convention. In 1893 he was elected to the Democratic State committee from the twenty-second congressional district and appointed to the executive commitee. The following year he was reelected and chosen secretary of the state committee by a unanimous vote, holding this important party office from 1894 to 1898. Meanwhile, in 1890, he became secretary and chairman of the Fulton-Hamilton district committee, a post that he held continuously for twenty-three years, retiring in 1913. In 1895 Mr. Judson, at the age of thirty-four, ran on the democratic ticket for the office of state comptroller, the second office in importance in the state, and while the party lost the election the fact that he ran far ahead of his ticket in his home district showed clearly that he enjoyed the confidence and respect of the voters who knew him personally or of his record in public life prior to that time. Five years later he received the unsought nomination for the post of state treasurer. In 1913 Mr. Judson's long and faithful services to the party of Andrew Jackson and Grover Cleveland were rewarded by his appointment to the postmastership of Gloversville by former President Woodrow Wilson. He was reappointed in 1917 and held that office until 1921.

Mr. Judson is a man of genial disposition and kindly manner that has endeared him to a host of friends and fellow townsmen. His ready wit and sense of humor, coupled with an unusual command of the English language, have made him a favorite as a public speaker, especially as an after-dinner speaker and toastmaster at formal dinners. There his ability to blend serious thought with a little nonsense makes the usual aftermath of a banquet enjoyable, rather than tedious, while at the same time the guests depart feeling that the purpose of the gathering has been accomplished, be it to celebrate a political victory or raise funds for some philanthropic enterprise. The growth and prosperity of Gloversville have always been matters very dear to Mr. Judson's heart. His generous support has been a factor in securing the success of more than one civic enterprise and no movement for the betterment of the community would be considered well launched without his endorsement. In fraternal circles he is a member of the Moose Lodge and the Gloversville Lodge, B. P. O. E., of which he was exalted ruler in 1922-23. The leading business men's social organization, the Eccentric Club, honored him with election to the presidency in 1913 for the 1913-14 term. His religious faith is that of the Protestant Episcopal church and he belongs to Trinity parish of this city.

In Johnstown, New York, on the 19th of September, 1882, Mr. Judson was united in marriage to Miss Isabel Stewart, the daughter of Judge John Stewart, an eminent jurist and financier. Judge Stewart was born in Mayfield, New York, October 30, 1820, the son of James and Margaret (McFarlan) Stewart, natives of Scotland who came to America in early life. He died at the age of sixty-two, on November 20, 1882. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Catherine Wells, was born in Johnstown, March 20, 1825, and passed away August 15, 1900.

Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Judson: Margaret Stewart Judson, who married Boyd G. Curts, secretary of the New York Trust Company, on June 20, 1907, and now resides in Brooklyn; and John B. Judson, Jr., of Gloversville, whose wife was the former Miss Helen Collier. John B. Judson, Sr., has two grandchildren: Isabel Catherine Curts of Brooklyn, born February 27, 1910, and John B. Judson (III), of Gloversville, born October 4, 1920. The family circle was first broken by death when Mrs. Isabel Stewart Judson passed away on January 12, 1921.

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