George Cushing

Portrait Photograph of George Cushing

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George Cushing was an eighth-generation Hinghamite, having descended from Matthew Cushing who settled in the town in 1638.  He was born on June 16, 1841 to David and Mary Souther (Lapham) Cushing.  As a child he attended the Hingham Grammar School and helped his father on the family's farm. His first foray into business came in 1858 when he established his own express company.  In 1860 he married Deborah Ellen Cushing, with whom he would have two children: Wallace Kiley and Ralph Edwards.

In 1864 Cushing began working in Hingham as the stable-keeper for the Union Hotel, also known as Drew's Hotel.  During this time Hingham became swept up in the nation-wide temperance movement, and hotels were not allowed to serve alcohol.  The owner of Drew's found it very difficult to run an establishment under such conditions, and therefore sold the business to Cushing in 1872.

Cushing was certain that he could successfully run his hotel without offering alcohol.  He believed in the temperance movement, taking the pledge in 1876 to never imbibe spirits.  However, when a patron staying the night said that he needed some alcohol, Cushing gave him a drink from his medicinal supply.  The next day the man came back with his friends and made the same request.  The patrons were actually witnesses who informed local authorities that Cushing was serving alcohol, and he was forced to pay a large fine.  Despite these problems, the Cushing House Hotel was exremely successful.

For most of the 19th century, residents relied on volunteer firefighters and neighborhood-owned equipment to combat fires.  This system was inefficient and expensive, so when the state of Massachusetts created a law mandating the formation of official municipal fire departments, Hingham quickly made plans to do so.  In 1879 George Cushing was appointed the first Chief of the Hingham Fire Department.

Cushing immediately set about improving fire protection in the town.  He saw to it that telephones were installed in several buildings, so that it was much easier to contact the fire department.  He also made sure, after the water company was established, that fifty fire hydrants were placed throughout the the town. Cushing held his position as the town's fire chief for approximately forty years. 

In 1888 he was also appointed postmaster by President Grover Cleveland, a position he would hold for several decades. 

Throughout his life Cushing was known for his friendly nature and for his honesty and integrity.  He was very involved in the community and was a member of such organizations as the Old Colony Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and Knights Templar.  Cushing died on April 22, 1920 in Hingham.