James Ludington

James Ludington (April 18, 1827 April 1, 1891) was an American entrepreneur, businessman, lumber baron, and real estate developer.[1][2] As a businessman he would loan money to other businessmen. In one such loan he had to foreclose for delinquent payments on a sawmill operation in Michigan. He ultimately obtained the sawmill in the village of Pere Marquette. Ludington platted the land there and formed a town with a lumber company operation. He later sold his interest to the lumber company for a large sum of money and became very wealthy. The town later changed its name and became Ludington, Michigan, although he never lived there.

American businessman

James Ludington
Born (1827-04-18)April 18, 1827

Died April 1, 1891(1891-04-01) (aged 63)
Resting place Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Nationality American
Occupation Businessman, entrepreneur
Employer Self-employed
Known for Developing Ludington, Michigan
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Never married
Parent(s) Lewis Ludington, father

. . . James Ludington . . .

James was born in Carmel, New York on April 18, 1827.[3] In 1843, the Ludington family moved from New York to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when James was 16. James and his father, Lewis Ludington, founded Columbus, Wisconsin in 1845.[1][3] In 1849, Utah Territorial Governor, Brigham Young, wrote to Ludington, soliciting his help in the construction of a paper mill in the Salt Lake Valley. Ludington planned to travel west to supervise the mill’s construction, but the deal was never completed.[4]

On October 11, 1854, Ludington loaned funds to George W. Ford for a sawmill operation in what was then known as the village of Pere Marquette in the northwestern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. When Ford defaulted on the loan and became insolvent in 1859, Ludington took over the operations of this sawmill.[1][2][5]

In 1854, Ludington filed for the purchase of unsold school land from the state of Wisconsin that was believed to contain some 70,000 acres (28,000 hectares). The sale was challenged and ultimately cancelled when the parcel was identified as containing over 200,000 acres (81,000 hectares). The purchase was re-filed after a further effort to specify which parcels were included. In 1855, the arrangements behind Ludington’s purchase were investigated by James Halpin and Dr. Hunt, as to the amount of funds and whether they were properly appropriated. In 1856, Ludington was implicated in a bribery and fraud scheme surrounding the sale. He was cleared of wrongdoing after a lengthy legislative investigation and public testimony.[6][7]

Ludington platted 360 acres of the land around Pere Marquette in 1867 and sold lots to individuals, developing the town.[8] In the same year, he built a large commercial building, called “The Big Store” that sold a variety of goods. Also at that time Ludington founded the first newspaper in the village, the Mason County Record.[1][2][5] The sawmill that Ludington acquired developed into an independent entity, called the Pere Marquette Lumber Company, which operated and managed the sawmill and The Big Store. On July 24, 1869, Ludington sold his interests to the company for half a million dollars, making him a very wealthy person. Ludington used a portion of this money to develop the village. On March 22, 1873, the city of Ludington was chartered.[1][2][9]

Ludington lived in New York state as a boy and in Wisconsin as an adult,[1][3] but never lived in Ludington, Michigan, the town that bears his name.[10] The streets of Ludington Avenue and James Street are named after him. The streets Lewis, William, Robert, Charles, Harrison, Emily, Lavinia, and Delia are named after his family members.[2] Ludington died on April 1, 1891, in his residence at Plankinton House Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[9] He is buried at Carmel where he was born.[11][12]

. . . James Ludington . . .

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. . . James Ludington . . .

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