Grace Hudson's husband, John Hudson (1857-1936), was born into a prominent family in Nashville, Tennessee; the youngest, and only son, out of seven children. The family expected that he would become a doctor, like his father. John attended the Western Military Institute at Nashville University, and went on to medical school at Nashville Medical College, specializing in homeopathic medicine and gynecology. He began his career as a homeopathic physician in Kentucky, then returned to Nashville where he continued his practice for several more years. In 1889, shortly after his father's death, he emigrated to Northern California having secured a position as physician for the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad that now had its terminus in Ukiah, Mendocino County. Shortly after his arrival in California, John met and courted Ukiah artist Grace Carpenter Davis, a recent divorcée. John and Grace were married on April 30, 1890. His mother and sisters in far-off Nashville, were somewhat dismayed as they had hoped for a more conventional partner for him. However, the couple had a similar outlook on life and shared a passionate interest in American Indians that became a lifelong bond between them.
Hudson had participated in various archaeological excavations in the Mississippi Valley region, and once in Ukiah, he became increasingly interested in the local Pomo peoples to whom he was introduced by members of the Carpenter family. As his studies of Pomoan languages, culture and basketry occupied more of his time, John's medical career languished. Hudson gave up his medical practice within five years of his marriage to Grace Carpenter Davis, and spent the rest of his life as a collector-scholar, amassing significant collections of California Indian basketry and other ethnographic artifacts. His reputation as an excellent amateur anthropologist led to his 1901 appointment as assistant ethnologist in the Department of Anthropology at the Field Columbian Museum of Chicago. In this capacity, John spent five years traveling throughout remote regions of California, collecting artifacts, taking photographs, and recording cultural and linguistic information from a multitude of California Indian peoples. After a disagreement with his supervisor, Hudson resigned his position and in 1906 returned to Ukiah. There he spent the remainder of his life independently pursuing his own ethnographic studies, culminating in a 900-page opus on Pomo Indians, unpublished at the time of his death. His significant basket collections are prized today at the Smithsonian Institution, the Field Museum in Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah. The extensive manuscripts and correspondence of John Hudson form the heart of the Grace Hudson Museum's research collection.