Monday, October 26, 2015

Elizabeth Langham Cushing Most Interesting Person in Portage Wisconsin, 1931

I just stumbled across a recent article about Elizabeth Langham Cushing, wife of James Cushing of Fort Winnebago, Wisconsin, cousin to our great-grandfather Francis Cushing. It having been published earlier this year, I felt that copying it here would be a copyright violation.  The article is located at  . It cites an original article by Zona Gale, a well-known Portage author.

Briefly, Ms. Gale, who, by the way, was a close friend of Elizabeth Cushing, describes her friend as an exceptionally fair Justice of the Peace, and a single mother who, in addition to raising her twin daughters, provided food, shelter, clothing, a bath, etc. to a constant stream of down-on-their-luck people who showed up at her door. I'm not sure what was in Gales' original article and what was added by subsequent authors, but Elizabeth had also traveled in Europe, lived in Italy, lived in a Nevada mining camp for 20 years, and became a highly respected and prominent Justice of the Peace. My addition: She was a member of the Progressive Party and was active in the presidential campaign of Wisconsin senator Robert LaFollette. Her daughter, Rachel, once told me that Elizabeth was very active in women's rights causes. (According to her obituary, Rachel remembers having to carry a banner with her mother and sister in a march for a Women's Right to Vote. A neighbor called out "Mrs. Cushing, go home and cook dinner for your family", to which Elizabeth replied "I have a pot roast in the oven. I think I'll keep marching.")

Elizabeth died in 1932, one year after Ms. Gales' article appeared, from injuries suffered in an automobile  accident.

The information in the recent online article originated in an article titled "Interesting People, Zona Gale Talks About The Most Interesting Person in Her Hometown", written by well-known Portage author Zona Gale, published in the November 1931 edition of American Magazine. It subsequently was used by Dorothy McCarthy for an article in her weekly "Tales of Old Portage" column in the Portage Daily Register (which appeared from 1958 to 1975). It's third incarnation is a collection of Ms. McCarthy's articles published by the Portage Historical Society in a book also titled "Tales of Old Portage". The fourth telling of this story is the recent article by Joanne Genrich, posted earlier this year. I suppose this post might be considered yet a fifth account (a great grandchild of Gales' article?).

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