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Metcalfs of Hudson
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Metcalfs

Editor's note: The Hudson Library and Historical Society is commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812 with a series of profiles of Hudson men who served in the war, written by Hudson Library and Historical Society Archivist Gwendolyn Mayer.

Two Hudson brothers fought together in the War of 1812, and one had the unfortunate experience of being mistaken for a British officer.

Dr. Jonathan Metcalf (1787-1869) and Horace Metcalf (1791-1865), originally from Lebanon, Conn., had grand ambitions of settling in the new Western territory. Jonathan traveled west to Pittsburgh, Canada and Painseville searching for a suitable town.

He settled on Hudson after a chance encounter with David Hudson, who lobbied for his hometown.

Horace ventured from Connecticut to the western wilderness of Hudson, arriving after a journey of six weeks with $110 in his pocket and the clothes on his back.

Being entitled to a land grant of 160 acres in the Illinois territory, he sold it and used the proceeds to buy land in Hudson.

The Metcalf brothers settled in the town of Hudson just as the conflict with Great Britain was escalating into war.

The young Metcalfs had seen their father's example of service in the Revolutionary War. While Dr. Metcalf had taken an oath to prevent disease and minister to the suffering, he felt a calling to aid the efforts of our soldiers in defense of their freedom. Both brothers quickly volunteered with a militia unit under fellow Hudsonite, Capt. Amos Lusk.

When word of U.S. Brigadier General Hull's surrender to the British forces arrived in Hudson in August of 1812 there were fears that British and Indian soldiers had made their way into the local area. In response, Lusk's unit paraded on the town's Green multiple times and made preparations for eminent battle.

Lusk needed a rider to go to Warren, Ohio, to receive orders from the commanding officer, and Dr. Jonathan Metcalf volunteered. After an arduous journey by horse and across waterways, Metcalf arrived at the camp. Sentries at the camp perceived Metcalf to be a British officer in disguise and captured him as a prisoner of war.

Once the misidentification was investigated and Metcalf's true identity clarified, he was released and sent back to Hudson with orders for the militia unit to join General Wadsworth's command and for Metcalf to travel with them as the militia's surgeon.

Jonathan married Abigail Root of Aurora in 1814 and raised three daughters. He continued his practice as a physician administering to the medical needs of this community for more than 57 years. Horace married Eliza Lemira Thompson in 1819, and by 1824 he had built a house on Hudson-Aurora Street, which came to be known as Maplewood Farm. The farm stayed in the Metcalf-Clark family until 1928.

Horace and Jonathan and their families are buried at Chapel Street Cemetery.

 

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