Biography of John Cuddy

In western Idaho is located Cuddy mountain, which will ever stand as a monument to the gentleman whose name heads this sketch, one of the honored pioneers of the state. More than a third of a century has passed since he came to this part of the Union, and few if any of the early settlers are more widely known than he, while none are held in more genuine regard. In almost daily fear of Indian attack, he planted his business interests near the mountain named in his honor and there maintained his home while civilization slowly advanced toward him from the older east, gradually lessening the realm of the red men, who were once lords over this rich and beautiful region. The history of his life here in the early days, if written in detail, would prove more marvelous than the most wonderful tale of the novelist, but space forbids us to give more than a limited notice of his career.

Mr. Cuddy was born in county Tipperary, Ireland, November 15, 1834, a son of Michael and Catharine (Murphy) Cuddy. In 1840 his parents crossed the Atlantic to Boston, Massachusetts bringing with them their ten children, while one of the number, having married, remained on the Emerald Isle. The father died at the age of seventy-eight years, and the mother passed away at the age of ninety-three. John Cuddy, their youngest child, was only six years of age when they sailed for the New World. He is a self-made man, for from early youth he has been dependent entirely upon his own efforts. His education was acquired at night schools and in the hard school of experience, but through his activity in the affairs of life he has gained a good practical knowledge. In his youth he learned the machinist’s trade and operated a stationary engine. In 1852 he made his way to the Pacific coast, traveling by way of the isthmus route to San Francisco, where he was employed in a warehouse for a time. He also engaged in mining on the Tuolumne River and operated a sawmill. In 1856 he went to Puget Sound, where he manufactured lumber, and then accepted a position as engineer on a towboat.

In 1865 Mr. Cuddy came to Idaho, bringing with him a stock of goods from San Francisco. He came by water up the coast and through the river to Umatilla, and thence by team proceeded to Boise, where he opened his store, having a stock of liquors, groceries, paints and oils. He was the senior member of the firm of Cuddy & Tyne, and carried on business in Boise until 1869, when they came to Salubria and erected the first mills in this part of the country. These were ready for operation in 1870, and the following year Mr. Cuddy purchased his partner’s interest and has since carried on the business alone. He engages in the manufacture of both lumber and flour, and nearly every house in this part of the state is constructed from lumber from his mill, while there is scarcely a home not familiar with the John Cuddy brand of flour. There were many difficulties and obstacles to be overcome in the establishment of a good business, but he is now enjoying a large trade, and his efforts are crowned with a merited degree of prosperity. In addition to his milling interests he owns a valuable farm of three hundred and twenty acres, a mile and a half from Salubria, and is justly regarded as one of the successful agriculturists and stock-raisers of this section of the state.

When he brought his materials and supplies from Boise to build his mills, there were no bridges in this part of the state, and so he and Mr. Tyne built a boat, which they carried with them. On reaching a stream that was not fordable they loaded their supplies in the boat and swam their stock across, thus eventually reaching their destination. Salubria is only seventy-five miles distant from Boise, but at that time it required twenty-one days to make the trip to and from the capital city. He located seven miles from any habitation, and the mountain near which he built his mill and home soon became known as Cuddy Mountain, a name which it still bears. The first winter after his arrival in the Salubria valley the roads became so blocked with snow that for three months Mrs. Cuddy saw no one but her husband and baby On one occasion he loaded two four-horse teams with dressed hogs and bacon and started for the city, but the snow and mud under it were so deep that it required four days to go nine miles. They left the loads and went back to the house to sleep at nights. At another time Mr. Cuddy went to Boise for a ton of salt and was commissioned by a neighbor to purchase a can of kerosene. He paid one hundred and sixty dollars for the salt and secured the oil, but when he reached home he found that it had leaked on the salt, rendering it unfit for use, and thus he was obliged to make the trip again for more salt. The first load he left exposed to the weather, and at the end of a year the oil had evaporated so that the salt could be fed to the stock.

In 1877, when the Nez Perces war broke out, the settlers were in imminent danger, and many of them packed up their goods, left their homes and went to Weiser. Mr. Cuddy sent his family to Boise, and thus they lived in constant danger of the red men who again and again went on the warpath. The men always wore their cartridge belts to the fields where they worked, and at the slightest noise glanced apprehensively around, fearful of seeing the Indians. In 1878 the Bannacks went on the warpath, and when the news reached Mr. Cuddy he put his family in a wagon and took them down the valley to a fort which was built for protection for the settlers. No less than ten times did he thus take his wife and children from home, for he had taken part in an Indian war in Oregon in 1865, and knew of the cruelties and treachery of the savages. Gradually, however, as civilization advanced and the country became more thickly populated, the Indians were subjugated and thus departed for other regions, leaving this fair district to yield its splendid gifts in return for the labors of the white race.

It was on the l0th of January, 1871, that Mr. Cuddy was united in marriage to Miss Delia Tyne, a native of his own country and county, and to them have been born six children, five of whom are living, namely: Kate, Ellen, John, Mary and Edward. They are being provided with good educational privileges and thus fitted to become useful men and women and to do credit to the untarnished family name which they wear.

In his political views Mr. Cuddy is a Republican, but has never been a politician in the sense of office-seeking, preferring to devote his time and energies to his business interests, in which he has met with good success. He, however, served his county on the board of commissioners for eight years, and has ever sought to promote the public welfare and the general good. He be-longs to that class of brave and loyal men who have made possible the present splendid development of the northwest, and on the pages of Idaho’s history his name will ever be engraved as one of its honored pioneers.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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1 thought on “Biography of John Cuddy”

  1. This is a wonderful area in Idaho. Don’t pass it up as you travel north on US 95. The rock formations are spectacular.

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