Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stories from Hudson's Past

A question from a visitor to Hudson--a historian researching the life of an early 19th-century monument maker--brought to my attention two early Hudsonians that up to that point I had known nothing about: Charles and Cyrus Darling, who were brothers. Here's what I learned about the Darlings. 

Both Charles and Cyrus were monument makers, and both spent some part of their lives in Hudson. Charles seems to have been the more long-term resident and served as mayor of Hudson in 1843. His picture hangs on the wall of the Common Council Chamber in City Hall.

Cyrus Darling also lived and worked in Hudson--apparently not for very long, but long enough to be commissioned by the City of Hudson to create the obelisk that marks the grave of Hudson native son and hero William Howard Allen.

Allen was born in Hudson on July 8, 1790, and his brief but celebrated life is chronicled in Biographical Sketches of the Distinguished Men of Columbia County (1851). Allen earned his hero status as the commander of the U.S. schooner Alligator fighting pirates in the Caribbean. Biographical Sketches describes his last battle in this way: "He plucked a wreath of glory, but the shaft of death was in it." Allen died of wounds suffered while rescuing merchant vessels that had been captured by pirates off the coast of Cuba. 

Allen was buried with military honors in Matanzas, in Cuba, on November 11, 1822. The news of his death "cast a gloom over the city," and the citizens of Hudson wanted their native son returned home, so on December 5, 1822, the Common Council passed a resolution asking the navy department to have Allen's remains brought from Matanzas to New York City. They arrived in New York on December 15, 1827, and from there were carried by steamboat to Hudson. 

Biographical Sketches describes the arrival of the fallen hero's remains in Hudson: 

They were welcomed by a national salute, and were escorted to the dwelling of Capt. Alexander Coffin, the patriotic kinsman of the lamented hero, by a detachment of military and a numerous escort of citizens, which moved in the following order:
Hudson City Guards.
Columbia Plaids.
Athens Lafayette Guards.
And the military under the command of Col. William A. Dean,
with standards furled and drums muffled.
The Reverend Clergy.
The Corpse,
Borne by Lieuts. Gregory, Hollins, Newman, Coxe,
Swartwont and Mull, and Midshipmen Lynch and Nichols.
Mourners, including Messrs. Bloodgood, Schermerhon,
Lawrence and Pinckney of the United States Navy.
Hudson Military Association.
Brigadier General Whiting and his Suite.
The Mayor and Recorder.
Assistant Aldermen.
Clerk and Marshall of the City.
Clerk and Sheriff of the County.
Committee of Arrangements.
Followed by a larger and more respectable procession of citizens than had, for many years, been witnessed in that city. While the procession moved, the bells of the city were tolled, and minute guns were fired from parade hill. On its arrival at the grave yard, the body was conveyed in front of the line of the military resting on arms reversed, and was committed to the earth, near the grave of Lieut. Allen's mother.

In 1833, the citizens of Hudson, "who have always been distinguished for their liberality and patriotism," erected a splendid monument to his memory. This was the monument created by Cyrus Darling.    

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