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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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CUSHING, James. (Plymouth Co., MA, Aug. 4, 1830--Los Angeles, CA, Apr. 9, 1917). MAYOR. Cushing came to Iowa in 1859 and soon bought his father's interest in the ice company of Carter, Piper and Cushing. (1) He managed to eliminate his two competitors and enjoy a monopoly on the ice business in the city for nine years. He later formed the Cushing-Fischer Ice Company with Louis FISCHER. (2)

In 1863 a loan to a friend led Cushing into the vinegar-making business at a site near Kaufmann Avenue and Valeria Street. James Cushing and Thomas Warnock became proprietors of the NORTHWESTERN VINEGAR WORKS in 1864. Their chief chemist, Joseph K. KAUFMANN, developed an exclusive formula for producing vinegar. By 1874 the business, with a new four-story brick factory at the corner what became Kaufmann Avenue and Valeria Street, became the largest of its kind in Iowa. The company produced 100,000 barrels annually. (3) Traveling salesmen took the product through Iowa, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. (4) He was elected the president of the Northwestern Vinegar Association in 1880. (5)

In 1891 the company became JAMES CUSHING AND SON VINEGAR COMPANY. The motto was, "Whatever you use it for, it's the best." (6)

Although never seeking public office, Cushing was chosen by the Republicans as their candidate and served as mayor of Dubuque in 1875. In December, however, articles of impeachment were being drawn when, as mayor, Cushing would not execute the will of the council in the payment of bills to the street commissioner and John McCoy for work on the market house. (7) On December 16, 1875 the mayor suggested that his refusal to sign the bills was due to his desire to check their accuracy. It was finally decided to place bills in the hands of the mayor to avoid further controversy. (8) On December 24, 1875 Cushing agreed to approve payment of the street commissioner thus resolving the two contested issues. (9)

The CUSHING-MCFADDEN VINEGAR COMPANY was incorporated in December 1902. Soon after that, Cushing retired and moved to California. (10)

See: JAMES CUSHING-175 W. 17th

Other council matters can be located by adding 1875 to the search feature on this encyclopedia.



1. Oldt, Franklin T., The History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880 Online: http://books.google.com/books?id=u9xDAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA781&lpg=PA781&dq=Northwestern+Vinegar+Works+%28dubuque%29&source=bl&ots=0CpzIFGW6t&sig=YBPWvzmYTk9MKNe6VTL8QKyGL5M&hl=en&sa=X&ei=RsSkUrLaFYiQrgGP6YCwDQ&ved=0CEsQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=Northwestern%20Vinegar%20Works%20%28dubuque%29&f=false

2. Kruse, Len. "Early Dubuque Vinegar Companies," My Old Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa: Center for Dubuque History, 2000, p. 248

3. Ibid.

4. Portrait and Biographical Record of Dubuque, Jones and Clayton Counties, Iowa. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Company, 1894, p. 255

5. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, January 1, 1881, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18810101&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

6. Kruse, p. 249

7. "Proposed Impeachment of Mayor Cushing," Dubuque Herald, December 8, 1875, p. 4. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18751208&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

8. Kruse, p. 249

9. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, December 25, 1875, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18751225&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

10. "City Council," Dubuque Herald, December 16, 1875, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18751216&printsec=frontpage&hl=en