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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fed Hudson and The Midway School

Every July my father’s family gets together for a family reunion.  At some point during the gathering I always take a moment and scan the room full of folks from Canton, Cartersville, Waleska, Atlanta and from as far away as Texas to realize that we all came from two particular people – my great grandparents, James William Johnson Land and Amanda Emaline Allred Land.  It's amazing to me that we can all trace our roots back to two particular people.

My family isn’t alone….many families across the nation get together for reunions including the Hudson family who meet in Villa Rica every year on the last Saturday in July.  Like me, members of the Hudson family look back to one man and woman.  In their case they trace their lineage to Fed and Amanda Hudson.

 


Fed Hudson’s grave along with his wife’s is located in a very small family plot located near the intersection of Liberty and Cole Roads in western Douglas County. The Douglas County Cemetery Commission has the family plot listed as Hudson-Dobbs Cemetery.

Most of the graves are unmarked, but Fed and Amanda’s  graves have a six foot marker with the words “gone but not forgotten”.

 
While the Hudson family hasn’t forgotten him, Fed Hudson has been lost in the Douglas County story and his contribution has only been known to a few.

Fed was born in 1839 according to the marker on his grave, but of course, it’s hard to know for sure since records weren’t always maintained where slaves were concerned.
Charles Hudson, Fed and Amanda’s great-grandson indicates family research has led him to a ship leaving Sierra Leone in 1767 with 65 slaves. The ship was classified as a sloop named Dove, and the master of the ship was Harrison Hudson.

It may just be a wild coincidence that the captain of the slave ship was Hudson….but then again he could have been related to the man who owned at least one of Fed Hudson’s great-grandparents.

Records reflect  51 slaves actually reached Savannah.  It was very common for slaves to die along the harsh journey across the ocean….conditions were brutal. I’ve written about the Middle Passage in my post titled Door of No Return, here.
The Hudson family believes one of Fed’s grandparents was on that ship because the manifest lists the location of the slaves or their tribal names.  Notations such as FEDr, FEDeyoh, LahFEDay, FEDay, etc. were made.  Of course, this could be a reason why Fed had such an unusual name, but again this is pure speculation.
It does seem plausible, right?

There has been no confirmation regarding the man who owned Fed, but due to census information from the year 1880, we do know Fed indicated he was born in 1839.  Fed also indicated he was a mulatto. There is speculation that his mother was a slave and his father was his master, but to date there is no proof.
In 1864, Fed was freed along with millions of slaves across the south due to the Emancipation Proclamation followed by the 13th Amendment. The Hudson family believes upon receiving his freedom Fed was given $100 and 100 acres  in the Bowdon area for him to make his own way, and it appears that he was successful!

By 1869, Fed Hudson decided the Bowdon area needed a school for blacks. He built what would become known as Fed Hudson High School on his property using his own timber.
In 1879, courthouse records indicate he paid taxes on 178 acres. By 1880, the land where the school sat was donated to the Carroll County School System and the “high school” became an elementary school by the same name.

A past West Georgia newsletter titled The Journey discussed the elementary school in Bowdon.  It says:
Hudson [Elementary] was named in honor of a former slave, Mr.Fed Hudson, who organized Bowden's first school for African Americans in 1880 and donated the land for it. Mr. Hudson's original school was located on Highway 100 adjacent to New Hope Methodist Church.

At some point between 1880 and 1900 Fed and Amanda Hudson moved to Villa Rica.  Fed bought 101 acres (Land Lot 82) in 1908 for $1,000, another 101 acres (Land Lot 83) in 1910 for $1,000, and in 1912, he paid $500 more for the remainder of Land Lot 82.
The land was in the vicinity of Liberty and Cole Roads.
Deed records at the courthouse indicate three acres of the total were excluded which means a school and/or church building might have always been school might have already been there.  We do know that the building was used as a school after Fed Hudson owned the land. 

Of course, Mr. Hudson held education in high esteem. He would be pleased to know that many teachers among his descendants including Dr. Roy D. Hudson who is a past president of Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia.

Last year the cemetery commission uncovered the foundation and bricks from the chimney for Midway School.



I want to thank the Cemetery Commission led by Sandy Whittington for their work  preserving and documenting the many family cemeteries around the county including the Hudson-Dobbs cemetery and the foundations for the Midway School.  I also wish to thank Charles Hudson, Fed Hudson's great-grandson, who was so kind to meet with Elaine Steere, a local genealogist regarding the Hudson family.
As you can see there are several questions that remain regarding Fed Hudson, but what a great contribution he made concerning early education for the black community not only in the Bowdon area, but in Douglas as well. 
The hunt for information will continue……

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