Edward Zane Carroll Judson Sr. (1821 or 1823– 1886), known as E. Z. C. Judson and by his pseudonym Ned Buntline, was an American publisher, journalist, writer, and publicist. He was born and died in the Western Catskill area of Upstate New York, but his time in the city was filled with adventure.
He ran away from home and served as a cabin boy and ended up on board a Navy vessel. He rescued the crew of a boat that had been run down by a Fulton Ferry in the East River and received a commission, because of his bravery, as a midshipman in the Navy from the president in 1838, and was assigned to the USS Levant. He later served on the USS Constellation and the USS Boston. While in the Navy, he served in the Seminole Wars and after four years at sea, he resigned. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the 1st New York Mounted Rifles and rose to the rank of sergeant before he was dishonorably discharged for drunkenness.
Judson’s first publication was an adventure story in The Knickerbocker in 1838. He signed on with numerous newspapers and story papers, but all of them failed. He moved around the country with his writing, and ended up in NYC in 1848. His fame came from The Mysteries and Miseries of New York, a gritty serial story of the Bowery and slums of New York City. He was an opinionated man and strongly advocated nativism and temperance. He was also active in the Know Nothing political party movement. In 1844, he adopted the pen name “Ned Buntline” after a rope at the bottom of a square sail. Inspired by his Navy days.
His writing and association with New York City’s notorious gangs of the early 19th century, led Buntline to be considered one of the instigators of the Astor Place Riot, which left twenty-three people dead. He was fined $250 and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment in September 1849.
He continued to write stories and dime novels, interviewing people like Buffalo Bill and basing stories around him. At one time he was one of the wealthiest writers in the United States, but died penniless in his Western Catskills home in 1886.