Biography of William P. Judson
Oswego County, NY Biographies





Judson, William Pierson, is selected as being the representative civil engineer of Oswego, where he has, since 1869, been engaged as United States civil engineer upon rivers, harbors, forts and ship canal surveys, acting as civil assistant to the various officers of the Corps of Engineers of the U. S. army who have successively made Oswego the headquarters of all government works for the improvement and defence of this region. He was born at Oswego, N. Y., on May 20, 1840, and attended the public schools of Oswego from the primary grade to the High School during the period from 1856 to 1865, being the first of the name for many generations who did not have the advantage of a college course. In October, 1888, Mr. Judson married Mrs. Anna L. McWhorter, daughter of the late Richard L. Thompson, M. D., who was a prominent physician of Albany, N. Y., who was later the health officer of the Port of New York from 1854 to 1862, and who died in 1864. Mr. Judson is the second son of the late John Work Judson (whose biography is given above), and Emily Pierson Judson, who married in Oswego in 1840, and made it their home until their deaths in 1878 and 1888 respectively. Each came, on both sides of then families, from English ancestors, who, seven and eight generations before, were the earliest Puritan settlers of Massachusetts and Connecticut; the different families coming to Boston between 1630 and 1639, and those in the direct line appearing upon the colonial records thereafter as taking prominent parts in the making of New England, and, many generations later, in the settling and development of Western New York. The Judson ancestors are previously referred to. The Piersons and the Buells on the mother's side were among the pioneers of New York State and settled in the wilderness of the Genesee Valley at Le Roy in 1805 and 1806, coming there through the Indian country, in wagons, from Connecticut, where their families had lived since 1633 and 1639. The Rev. Abraham Pierson, the first of the name in America, was a minister of the Church of England, and the founder of Newark, N. J., which took its name from his parish in England, while his son was the first president of Yale College. His direct descendants were successively a colonial magistrate, a private soldier through the war of the Revolution, and a lieutenant of New York Dragoons in the war of 1812. Of the Buells, the first came to Boston in 1630 and in 1633 was one of the small party who built and fortified the first house in Connecticut. His son was the colonial magistrate of the town of Killingworth, while the next two in direct line were respectively a captain and a lieutenant in the colonial troops which protected the country from the Indians. The next Capt. Asa Buell, served through the war of the Revolution, after its close was elected a member of the Legislature, and in 1806 moved his family to Le Roy, where his granddaughter, the mother of the subject of this biography, was born in 1820. Upon leaving the Oswego High School in 1865, Mr. Judson entered the service of the United States Engineer Department as draughtsman and leveler on the work of rebuilding Fort Ontario with permanent masonry, which had been in progress for some years in charge of his father, but which was then directed by Captain (now Lieutenant Colonel) Jared A. Smith of the U. S. Corps of Engineers. The instruction in civil engineering which wads given him by his father and by Captain Smith, with study during actual practice in the office and field, combined to fit Mr. Judson for the responsible position which he has since filled. From 1865 to 1869 he made the detailed drawings for, and helped in laying out, much of the intricate work of Fort Ontario's caseates, galleries, and scarp revetment. In 1869 he made the original survey of the lake front of Oswego for the outer harbor, and also the large map of it upon which the Board of Engineers planned the outer breakwater, which was begun in 1871 under the personal charge of Mr. Judson (who nearly lost his life by drowning while locating it), and which has since been built and maintained at a cost of $1,250,000; much of its building having been under his direction when not absent on other works, as have aho been the submerged rock excavation in the river and the other works in Oswego harbor, as described in its history elsewhere.

In 1893 he made a minute survey and map of Oswego harbor and river up to the dam, and of the city streets and railroads, which map has been adopted as the official map of the U. S. harbor lines, and is to be published as such by the government. The entire absence of any such map has often been felt. In 1870 he made similar minute surveys and large maps of all the U. S. harbors on Lake Ontario, which were published, and have served as the basis for their improvement, and since then he has made surveys, projects and estimates for many extensive works elsewhere, on Lake Champlain, River St. Lawrence and Lake Erie. The works which have thus been directed from the Oswego office, and for which Mr. Judson has been the civil engineer, have varied greatly in extent from time to time; for many years including five forts and twenty rivers and harbors on Lake Champlain, River St. Lawrence, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and a part of Lake Erie, as well as the lighthouses in the same region. This large district was later reduced in extent to include a part of Lake Ontario only, with two forts and six harbors. The total appropriations for these works since 1870 have aggregated several millions of dollars. Besides these general duties, Mr. Judson has had local charge in 1882 and 1883 of extensive repairs and reconstruction of Fort Wayne, Mich., and in 1884 of Fort Montgomery on Lake Champlain, and in 1885 of the breakwater at Burlington, Vt., and at various times of extensive works at Fort Niagara on the Niagara River. Twice during this period in 1874 and again in 1889, the subject of a ship canal connection of the great lakes with tidewater has been reported upon by the Oswego engineers' office, Mr. Judson being engaged upon both of these examinations and reports. In 1889 and again in 1893 discussions of the ship canal problem by Mr. Judson were published in pamphlet form, and have been widely quoted and copied, the first being reprinted in full as a part of the congressional document regarding the subject, and with the second, showing that any future connection of the lakes with the tidewater must of necessity lie through the valleys of the Oswego River. the Oneida River and the Mohawk River to the Hudson. Mr. Hudson's general interest in different branches of hips profession has led to his being identified with many of the local public affairs besides those directly pertaining to government works. Since 1876 he has been the commissioner to regulate and divide the water power of the Varick canal, which takes half of the power of the Oswego River at its first dam, and operates the starch factory, and mills, etc., on the west side of the river. From 1884 to 1890 he was actively connected with one of the leading electric companies, and had much to do with the general introduction of electric power for street railways elsewhere than in Oswego. As the engineer member of the Board of Health of Oswego, Mr. Judson drew up the rules for electric wiring, which were formally adopted and published in book form in 1890, but which have not been enforced, and also the specifications for electric lighting of the city, which go into effect in 1895. As a sanitary engineer he also prepared the adopted and published rules for plumbing, drainage and ventilation which are now in force, and he is considered an authority on matters of sanitation. In 1894, at the request of the mayor, and as the consulting engineer to the Board of Public Works, Mr. Judson prepared a discussion of the "City Roads and Pavements suited to Oswego," which has been published in book form for general reference in the projected improvement of the city. These varied interests, added to those of the government works, have led to Mr. Judson's being a member of the American Societyof Civil Engineers, a member of the English Institution of Civil Engineers, and an associate member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. to the published transactions of which bodies he has made various contributions. Mr. Judson has been a trustee of the Oswego Hospital since its organization, and he was also one of the organizers of the Fortnightly Club, and since its incorporation one of its officers. He is one of the oldest members of the AEonian Lodge of F. and A. M. The family have always been members of Christ Church, Oswego. In political affairs he has always scrupulously avoided taking any active part, considering that his professional business could be better executed if kept wholly free from political influences.

FROM:
Landmarks of Oswego County
New York
Edited by: John C. Churchill, LL.D.
Assisted by: H, Perry Smith and W. Stanley Child
Syracuse, N. Y.
D. Mason & Co., Publishers 1895


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