Brown, Hallie Q.
|ANNA ELIZABETH HUDLUN -- 1840--1914|
Anna Elizabeth Lewis was born a child of joy. Shortly before her birth in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, February 6, 1840, her slave mother was set free by the Quaker family who owned her, and all of the happiness and joy of the mother's realization of freedom was breathed into the soul of little Anna Elizabeth.
As Anna grew older her mother had to assume the responsibility of a woman lone in the world with the little girl child to support. She was fortunate in finding another devout Quaker family of Pennsylvania willing to take Anna to rear, while the mother traveled with one of the prominent families of the country. A background was thus formed for the fine, spiritual life which she ever manifested in her work, and no one who knew her, failed to love and honor Anna Elizabeth for it.
When the mother realized that Anna Elizabeth had reached the period in life where her distinctive attractions might bring her in contact with matrimonially inclined youth, she joined her daughter and together they came west, stopping in St. Louis, Mo., for a time, finally locating in Chicago, in 1854. While in the city of St. Louis, Anna Elizabeth met a young man, Joseph Henry Hudlun, and although the meeting seemed a casual one, fate seemed the directing hand, and 1854 found young Hudlun also located in Chicago. In 1855, after a brief courtship, they were joined in wedlock.
During the years of great growth and development of the city of Chicago, the lives of both Anna Elizabeth and Joseph Henry Hudlun blossomed with kindly impulses
They realized that to become substantial citizens they must acquire property, and they owned the first house, a little five room cottage, contracted for and built by colored owners. This little home, at 279 Third Avenue, not far from the Dearborn Station, soon became the Mecca toward which the old pioneers and the strangers alike wended their way for social life and civic betterment. In times of distress, as that of the Chicago fire of 1871, the doors of the Hudlun home were thrown open to colored and white alike and as many as five families found refuge therein at that time, and all lived in harmony and good will, subsisting on hard tack furnished to the sufferers by the city and water from Lake Michigan drawn to the home by Hudlun in his little buggy. This sufficed until roomier guarters and better fare could be provided.
This one act endeared them to all Chicago and not to know the Hudluns, was to be denied the best in the city.
While Anna Elizabeth Hudlun was busy rearing the family, working in old Quinn Chapel A. M. E. Church where her mother was among the earlier members and with which Anna herself connected in her very early years, working to keep the mixed schools of Chicago open, and ministering to the needy of all groups, Joseph Hudlun was likewise serving the Master.
He was born a slave, in Culpepper Court-house, Virginia, October 4, 1839, but through frugal habits and conscientious labor, he amassed considerable property by the time of his death in what is now a thickly settled part of the South Side. Thirty-nine years of continuous service on the Chicago Board of Trade, where he did his duty well at all times endeared him in the hearts of every Board of Trade man. How well and conscientiously he served them was brought out on the night of the fire of 1871. Leaving his little family, he went to the Board of Trade in the thickest of the conflagration, opened the vaults and
Not alone did Joseph Henry Hudlun serve on that night of the great Chicago Fire. "Mother Hudlun" as she was affectionately called, was seeking out the distressed to give them help and comfort, aside from those who were sheltered under her roof. These deeds gained for her the title of "Fire Angel" which clung to her to the end.
When the second conflagration came in 1874 and swept the homes of the colored neighborhoods into oblivion, again "Mother Hudlun" was conspicuous for her solicitude for the homeless and distressed, supplying good clothing, sheltering and feeding many families. So endeared to the people had she become by this time that another title was added in reverence and affection. "Chicago's Grand Old Lady."
Anna Elizabeth Hudlun would have been called one of the foremost social welfare workers of her day had her work been classed. She was an ardent supporter of the work done by her children along that line, and week ends found several of the dependents of the Juvenile Court, who were under the supervision of her daughter, Joan, finding change and recreation under her hospitable roof. She was an enthusiastic club member and organized a club for the purpose of placing needy old people in the Home for Aged and Infirm, which Joan helped to found, officer and support, when it was very unpopular. To her last day she
On November 21, 1914, she passed on to that sweet rest which the dear Lord has provided for them that serve Him.
Anna Elizabeth Hudlun left behind her beautiful memories in the hearts of all classes of Chicago's cosmopolitan people who honored and loved her for the Good Samaritan that she was.
"Tis hard to take the burden up,
When these have laid it down;
They brightened all the joy of life,
They softened every frown.
But oh! `Tis good to think of them
When we are troubled sore;
Thanks be to God that such have been
Although they are no more!"