08 October 2012

My Genealogy Journey to Hudson, NY, Part 2

My first entree into the world of Hudson's past was the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. This was way early in my genealogy career (early 2008, before I'd splurged on Ancestry) and I was using Heritage Quest (thank you, Maricopa County Public Library!) at home on my computer. The names were all kerfloo-ey, the birth months were all probably wrong, but the ages and relationships were right. 

1900 U.S. Census, Hudson, New York [1]
"Cyrus" should have been Saul.
"Annie" should have been Hoda or Hattie.
"Nina" was correct.
"Daniel" should have been Joseph.
"Benjamin" was correct.
"Ester" was correct.
Hudson map from 1898 City Directory
It definitely was my Wilson family and it was, in fact, one of the first documents I ever found on my Wilson line. While I have found no 1900 Hudson city directories online (and neglected to look for one when I was in the Hudson Area Library), I did get Esther's birth register record [2] in Hudson. I'd already found the family in 1898 (60 Chapel St.), 1899 (19 Diamond St.) and in 1901 - 1904 Hudson city directories.[3]

From 1899 Hudson City Directory
19 Columbia Street (Sept. 2012)

254 Columbia Street (Sept 2012), on the corner with 3rd St.
After I'd noted the 1900 Census address (254 Diamond Street), I queried in Google Maps to find the current location. There was no 254 Diamond Street in Hudson. This encouraged further Googling on Diamond Street and Hudson. It was clear that, at some point, Diamond Street had been renamed Columbia Street. 

I contacted Hudson City Historian, Patricia Fenoff, and asked if she could confirm the name change, determine whether the house numbers had remained the same and find out whether there was any building in the location of 254. She confirmed the change, affirmed that the numbers were likely the same and that 254 was an empty lot. 

I visited the lots on Diamond Street a couple of weeks ago (photos, above). 254 is on the northwest corner of Columbia and 3rd Street. The building that today stands at 19 Diamond Street (above, right) is a few lots east of Front Street and was built during the time of urban renewal 20 or 30 years ago.

My Internet searching indicated that Diamond Street and Hudson had some notoriety about which I'd been previously uninformed. I haven't seen the street name change (which occurred in 1926 [4]) linked directly to the notorious history of Hudson's Red Light District, but my relatives apparently lived across the street. At the turn of the 20th Century, the 300 block of Diamond Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets, was the center of the activities and had been so for more than 50 years. It remained an active prostitution area until 1950 when the powers that were in the State of New York decided to end the entrenched and protected illicit activities in Hudson.[5] 

I have a notion that all the activities in the area, especially on weekends and after paydays, shocked my great grandmother Hoda, newly arrived from a small shtetl in the Russian Empire. But, of course, it may just have made her stronger.
1. 1900 U.S. Census, Columbia County, New York, population schedule, Hudson, Enumeration District 19, sheet 8A, dwelling 126, Family 172, Cyrus Wilson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 August 2008).
2. Register of Births in the City of Hudson, Columbia County, New York. Esther Wilson, Register Number 3612, date of birth 10 November 1898, Register in the City Clerk's Office, Hudson, New York.
3. Hudson City, Claverack and Stottville Directory for 1898 (Hudson, NY: JH Lant
Co., Inc., 1898), 156, entry for Wilson, Saul; Directory for 1899, 156, entry for Wilson, Saul; FHL Film 2,156,840.
4. Hall, Bruce Edward, Diamond Street, Hudson, New York: The Story of the Little Town with the Big Red Light District, Chapter 5: "The Block," Hudson: Black Dome Press Corp., 2005.
5. ibid: Chapter 7.


  1. Any connection to Moe, owner of famous restaurant in Montreal where I ate?


  2. No idea. But, ifthe food was good I'll try to claim him.

  3. Quick question. Do you have Patricia's e-mail? I tried one that was listed, but it bounced back.

  4. Mark:
    It's been several years since I contacted Patricia Fenoff. I do not know if she is still working as City Historian. I would contact the City of Hudson and see if they will give you her contact info. If not, ask if you send them a note would they forward it to her.


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