It was not a dark and stormy night, when Gwen Mayer led a group of Hudson residents on a 'haunted' tour of downtown on Monday night.
No ghosts appeared during the balmy evening, but the moon shined down through a haze to illuminate the clock tower, and we were immersed in Hudson's history.
Mayer is an archivist for the Hudson Library and Historical Society, and has a passion for all things historical involving the city.
She combs private diaries, and researches through newspapers from the 1800's. (Anyone whose attic contains Hudson newspapers of the 1850's to the 1870's, let her know, the archive is missing those years)
CLINTON STREET AREA
Just outside the library on Clinton Street, Mayer says, residents might have heard strange sounds late at night during World War II.
It wouldn't have been a ghost however, but entrepreneur and inventor John Morse, riding his motorcycle home after a late night at his company, Morse Instruments.
Morse developed a method of photographing cities from aircraft at night. He made the first night aerial photograph of Chicago in 1931, and developed the aerial gun camera, which was used to verify successful target strikes in World War II.
The business at one time employed over 500 people, and Morse was fond of riding his motorcycle well into middle-age.
21 AURORA STREET
The Isham-Beebe House was built in 1834 and originally served as the home of newspaper publisher, Warren Isham. It later became the home of Mr. and Mrs. D. Duncan Beebe.
There was a fire in the house in 1842. The mother-in-law of Senator Duncan Beebe, Sarah Brewster, was giving birth at the time and had to be carried out of the house on a mattress.
When Sarah died in December of 1889, the senator rushed home for the funeral. He developed heart pains and died on the entrance steps to the house.
22 AURORA STREET
The Baldwin Babcock House has a most unusual 'ghost'.
This building was once home to the Hudson Library and Historical Society. Mayer worked in the building and reported that at intervals there was a noticeable smell of soup-when no one living was doing any cooking.
She reports that the current occupants of the building, the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, and the ICF Foundation, have employees who occasionally still smell the soup.
Mayer says it smells like vegetable beef soup-but reports that no ghost has ever served up any to the living.
27 E. MAIN STREET
The Hudson Town Hall now stands here, and was built on the site of the original First Congregational Church.
It was a New England-style, wooden meeting house, constructed in 1820. It served as the church until 1865, and is the location of an important historical event in U.S. history.
In 1837, a passionate abolitionist stood up inside to give his first public speech.
John Brown, who came to live in Hudson as a child and grew up in the city, was inflamed after hearing that one of the major figures in the abolitionist movement, editor Elijah Lovejoy, had been killed by a mob. He told listeners that he would dedicate his life from that point forward to the abolition of slavery.
John Brown would leave Hudson and eventually give his life for the cause, after raiding the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859.
Walking along the lamp-lit green, one could almost hear his words just before he was hanged for treason in December of 1859:
"I, John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood."
LINCOLN'S BRIEF VISIT
We continued our walk around the green and Mayer pointed the way toward the site of the former train depot on Railroad Street.
Somewhere back in the vicinity of the police station she told us, is a marker that commemorates President Abraham Lincoln's short train stop in Hudson, on February 15, 1861.
She says he did not get off the train, or make a speech, as he traveled to his inauguration in Washington.
According to Western Reserve Archivist Tom Vince, Lincoln spoke only 43 words:
"I stepped upon the platform to see you, and to give you an opportunity of seeing me, which I suppose you desired to do. You see by my voice that I am quite horse. You will not therefore expect a speech from me."
Perhaps his brief visit was a chance to thank the many Hudson Republicans who voted for him.
Mayer says that Hudson has historically voted for Republican candidates in presidential elections. When challenged by those who told her Hudson had never gone Democratic, she did some research.
Although records are not complete for Hudson, she has found two occasions when the majority of Hudson residents backed a Democrat:
Woodrow Wilson in 1912
FDR in 1936
OTHER HISTORICAL HAPPENINGS
Mayer told us of the 1892 fire in Hudson, which consumed all of Main Street. There were no deaths, due to the heroic efforts of a young boy who went around alerting those staying in local hotels, in time for them to escape.
She spoke briefly of a murder that occurred at the train station-a love triangle, but the parties were strangers to Hudson and not much is recorded about the incident.
A young John D. Rockefeller often stayed with his aunt and uncle at 58 Owen Brown Street. As an adult, he frequently came to town and had ice cream at Saywell's and admired the clock tower.
Take an evening some time, and stroll through downtown and its nearby neighborhoods.
The Hudson Library and Historical Society publishes two pamphlets:
A Walking Tour of Historic Hudson
The Anti-Slavery Movement and the Underground Railroad
Perhaps you'll hear or see some ghosts of your own.