Abolitionists, Copperheads, and Colonizers in Hudson
and the Western Reserve
Author: Mae Pelster
Publisher: The History Press
Retail Price: $21.99
Descendants of Puritans, the founders of the Connecticut Western Reserve believed in a classless society. They envisioned a culture in which the word “slave” was meaningless. Their goal was to produce leaders to champion these principles and spread them across the American continent–people like themselves who would stand at the center of educational institutions, cultural centers, political structures and charitable organizations. They laid the foundations of the communities to come that would reflect an idealized vision of human character in their sense of community, their emphasis on faith that was tolerant of the beliefs of others and their appreciation of the importance of equal access to public education and democratic government. Meet the nation builders.
A portion of my Corn line comes from the area of the state that was once the Western Reserve. A combination of family lore and my own research had led me to see a connection through my PITCHER ancestors to Hartford, Connecticut, so I was really drawn to this book purely for research purposes. I wanted to know how people came to migrate from Connecticut to the area which would eventually become Ohio. However, this book gave me much more than a lesson in migration. Through her knowledge of the history and people of the area, Mae Pelster paints a picture of not only influential individuals such as the Hudson family, Owen and John Brown, but more importantly the values and beliefs that formed the foundation of a society. I found this terribly fascinating because the traits that Ms. Pelster described have long been found in my family: tolerance, acceptance, education, charity. To know that these were specific beliefs that drove the formation of a town as well as university made me wonder if I had simply taken something for granted that I should have honored and respected. Could my third-great-grandfather, Ephraim Pitcher, have been part of this movement? He was, after all, born in Connecticut and migrated to Ohio. Though my family didn’t live in Hudson they did live in an area of Northeast Ohio not far from Hudson. Could they have come by way of this remarkable town? I’ve definitely just added a research goal to my list: Discover our migration path from Connecticut to Ohio.
The history of this particular area in Ohio is covered remarkably well in this book. The information given through stories, photos, and recollections gives the reader an inside look into the motivation of families that will be linked to the Anti-Slavery and Abolition movement forever. John Brown isn’t simply a name that children learn in history class. He’s part of a pivotal family linked to my state’s history forever.
Could portions of this book be written with a bit more clarity? Yes. I did find myself reading several sections more than once in order to pull out what I believe to be the author’s main point. However, the information and casual writing style come together in such a way that I felt I was reading a family history book rather than a local history book. I am immediately drawn towards the individuals mentioned.
If you have family in this portion of Ohio I strongly recommend that you read Abolitionists, Copperheads, and Colonizers in Hudson and the Western Reserve. It will shed light on the motivations of the people in this area in a way that we, as family historians, long to know. If you don’t have family who hail from the area but have an interest in the roots of the abolition movement I strongly recommend that you read this book. It takes a look at the way that society functioned. It sheds light on the ideals that started – and in some cases failed – to make a difference in the future of our nation.
** In an effort to maintain full disclosure, I did receive this book free of cost from The History Press in trade for an honest review. My words here are my own, and my opinion was not influenced in any way by The History Press. **
This article originally appeared in the March issue of News from the Field (The In-Depth Genealogist.) Receive The In-Depth Genealogist free by subscribing HERE.