Friday, April 27, 2012


It's an attitude encountered in many places in upstate New York, and one that often seems particularly virulent in Hudson: unless you have ancestors buried in the local cemetery, you never stop being a newcomer and (implied) an outsider, an interloper, a "citiot." 

A Gossips reader told me this morning that his aunt, who seems to be the family genealogist, had discovered that he was a direct descendant of Tristram Coffin, who founded Nantucket. Doing some further research on his own, he discovered that another Coffin in this direct line of descent was Alexander Coffin, who was one of the Proprietors--the founders of Hudson. 

This reader and his wife bought a house here in Hudson a few years ago, and now divide their time between Hudson and New York City. By some standards, they are "newcomers"; but by the "ancestors in the cemetery" test, they are not. He has lots of ancestors buried in the Hudson cemetery--some of whom have been there for close to two hundred years. 


  1. My great grandparents are in the Hudson Cemetery, but I'm not "local" because my father decided to move 45 minutes north as a young man.

    "Local" means you went to all levels of schooling HERE and were part of the St. Marys Fairies gang.

  2. I have not had time to do the research necessary to confirm it, but I am convinced that I am descended from John W.Thurston, one of the Proprietors, and the property owner for whom the small park in the 200 block is named.

    If I am right about this, the descendant of Tristam Coffin and I could have stepped forward and claimed to be the rightful owners of the Furgary Boat Club, since the Proprietors were the original owners of both the South Bay and the North Bay and never deeded over the land were the Furgary sits today to anyone.

    Ellen Thurston, Proud Hudsonian

  3. Of course anyone and everyone who is a descendant of our city's Proprietors is currently being sued in an adverse possession lawsuit!

    For my own satisfaction I've made an overlay of several 19th c. maps of Hudson's North Bay. On the basis of that study I've concluded (again, for myself) that the erstwhile underwater lands of "Furgary" were indeed paid-for and owned by the Proprietors.

    Considering that those lands were never deeded to anyone, the claim that New York state didn't enjoy the right to give them to the City of Hudson is compelling, at least from a purely legal point of view.

    Because the North Dock Tin Boat Association is asking the New York State Appellate Court to decide this very issue, we may all be in for a surprise.

    Whatever else anyone wants to believe, or whatever one's wishes for the future of North Bay, I counsel reaching out to the Furgarians.

    I'm glad that I did. Ever since they removed the "Members Only" signs at the entrance I've learned all about the history of the community's shad fishery, and seen some of the fishery-related structures and tools that survive. One building houses an old baywater-fed tank, once used for bait fish.

    I can attest that the Furgarians are admirably involved with their own heritage.

    There is nothing like it surviving in any shad-running state that I can find. There's a single shack on the Connecticut River, near Hadley, that the people thereabouts cherish.

    If it's a good idea to learn what Furgary is all about before the courts decide that the state was in the wrong, it's as good an idea to learn something about a local heritage the likes of which the world would never see again if they lose their case.