Hudson is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States.
Before its incorporation as a town in 1866, Hudson was a suburb of the neighboring Marlborough, Massachusetts, and was known as Feltonville. And before that Eastborough. From around 1850 until the last shoe factory burned down in 1968, Hudson was known as a "shoe town." At one point, the town had 17 shoe factories, many of them powered by the Assabet River, which runs through town. Because of the many factories in Hudson, immigrants were attracted to the town. Today, most people are of either Portuguese or Irish descent, with a smaller percentage of people being of French, Italian, English, or Scots-Irish descent. Hudson is served by the Hudson Public Schools district.
In 1650, the area that would become Hudson was part of the Indian Plantation for the Praying Indians. The Praying Indians were evicted from their plantation during King Philip's War, and most did not return even after the war ended.
The first European settlement of the Hudson area occurred in 1699 when settler John Barnes, who had been granted an acre of the Ockookangansett Indian plantation the year before, built a gristmill on the Assabet River on land that would one day be part of Hudson. By 1701, Barnes had also built a sawmill on the river and had built a bridge across it. Over the next century, Hudson grew slowly.
Hudson was part of Marlborough and was known as Feltonville for part of that time, until its incorporation in 1866.
In the 1850s, Feltonville received its first railroads. The town of Hudson had two train stations, originally operated by the Central Massachusetts Railroad Company and later by Boston & Maine, until both of them were closed in 1965. This allowed the development of larger factories, some of the first in the country to use steam power and sewing machines. By 1860, Feltonville had 17 shoe and shoe-related factories, which attracted immigrants from Ireland and French Canada.
Feltonville residents fought during the Civil War for the Union side. Twenty-five men died doing so. Many houses, including the Goodale House on Chestnut Street (Hudson's oldest building, dating from 1702) and the Curley home on Brigham Street (formerly known as the Rice Farm), were stations on the Underground Railroad.
In 1865, Hudson-area residents again petitioned for Feltonville to become a separate town. This petition was approved by the Massachusetts General Court on March 19, 1866. The new town was named Hudson after childhood resident Charles Hudson, who donated $500 to the new town for it to build a library, on the condition that the newly incorporated town be named after him.
Over the next twenty years, Hudson grew as many industries settled in town. Two woolen mills, an elastic-webbing plant, a piano case factory, and a factory for waterproofing fabrics by rubber coating were built, as well as banks, five schools, a poor farm, and the town hall that is still in use today. The population hovered around 5,500 residents, most of whom lived in small homes with little backyard garden plots. The town maintained five volunteer fire companies, one of which manned the Eureka Hand Pump, a record-setting pump that could shoot a stream of water .
Disaster struck on July 4, 1894, when a fire started by two boys playing with firecrackers burnt down 40 buildings and of central Hudson. Nobody was hurt, but the cost of damages was estimated at $400,000 (1894 dollars). Nevertheless, the town was rebuilt within a year or so.
By 1900, Hudson's population had reached about 7,500 residents, and the town had built its own power plant, so some homes were wired for electricity. Electric trolley lines were built that connected Hudson with the towns of Leominster, Concord, and Marlborough. The factories in town continued to grow, attracting immigrants from England, Germany, Portugal, Lithuania, Poland, Greece, Albania, and Italy. These immigrants usually lived in boarding houses near their places of employment. By 1928, 19 languages were spoken by the workers of the Firestone-Apsley Rubber Company. Today, the majority of Hudson residents are either of Irish or Portuguese descent, with smaller populations of those of Italian, French, English, Scots-Irish, and Greek descent. About one-third of Hudson residents are Portuguese or are of Portuguese descent. Specifically, most people of Portuguese descent in Hudson are from the Azorean island of Santa Maria, with a smaller amount from the island of São Miguel or from the Trás-os-Montes region of mainland Portugal. The Portuguese community in Hudson maintains the Hudson Portuguese Club, which now has a newly rebuilt, state-of-the-art clubhouse. The Hudson Portuguese Club was established in the mid-1910s and has outlived other ethnic clubs, such as the town's long-gone Italian Club. Recent immigrants to Hudson arrive mainly from Mexico, Central America, Brazil, and other South American countries, Asia, and Europe.
Hudson's population remained about the same until after World War II, when developers started to buy out some farms that rimmed and still do rim the town. The new houses that were built on this land more than doubled Hudson's population. Recently, high-technology companies have built plants and factories in Hudson, such as Digital Equipment Corporation (now owned by Intel). Although the population of Hudson is now about 20,000, the town still maintains the traditional town meeting form of government.
Feltonville was the name of what is today the town of Hudson, Massachusetts. Before becoming a separate incorporated town, Hudson was a suburb of Marlborough, Massachusetts; this suburb was known as Feltonville. The name is derived from the name of the Felton store, owned by Silas Felton, that was built in the early 19th century. The name was used from 1828 until the town was incorporated as Hudson in 1866. Today, Feltonville is not used to refer to the town of Hudson in any way, but there are two streets that reference the name: Felton Street and Feltonville Road.
Hudson has had other, earlier names: