Biographical Sketch of Joseph Cushman

Joseph Cushman was appointed by a democratic legislature first probate judge of Thurston County.

He was born at Middlebury, Massachusetts, March 13, 1807, and was a lineal descendant of Robert Cushman of the Mayflower company, had a good home education and a Boston business training, hence was a valuable man in any community, besides being an orator of ability, and ready writer.

He went to South America in 1849, and after a brief stay in Valparaiso, came to California, and engaged in jobbing goods on the Sacramento Paver. Making the acquaintance of Samuel Merritt, owner of the brig G. W. Kendall, he took charge of Merritt’s business, established in Olympia in 1852, Merritt running a line of vessels, and having a trading house at that place.

In 1857 Cushman was admitted to practice as an attorney, and successfully defended Luther M. Collins, who was charged with murder in connection with the execution of an Indian outlaw.

In 1855 he was nominated by the Free Soil Party for delegate to congress, but was beaten by J. P. Anderson, democrat.

In the Indian war he enlisted as a private in Eaton’s company of rangers, and was one of the party besieged on Lemmon’s land in the Puyallup Valley, remaining in the service until the close of the war.

He was president of the first board of trustees for Olympia in 1869. In 1861 he was appointed by President Lincoln receiver of public moneys in connection with the land office, which appointment he held until 1870. His name is incorporated with the history of the capital of Washington particularly, and with the country in general. He died Feb. 29, 1872. Olympia Echo, March 7, 1872; Olympia Standard, March 2, 1872.


Bancroft, Hubert H. Bancroft Works, Volume 31, History Of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, 1845-1889. San Francisco: The History Company. 1890.

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