left -right: Army buddy Ted Marshall, my grandparents Ralph B. Cushman Sr. & Nell McDougald,  Hal Gray, Emma Bering Gray, Daisy Bering Clark and Mildred McDougald.
In new uniforms and about to go to war in Germany, two "dough-boys" enjoy a bonfire with devotees, around 1917. The four girls were sisters- actually the two McDougalds were half-sisters to the two Berings (different fathers).  Nell married Ralph, (my grandparents) and Emma married Hal. Daisy and Mildred ended up in California. Ted was the odd man out.

The clan you see above were the patriarchs of my world for the first twelve years of my life. But by 1966 these folks were getting old and we moved to far north Harris County. Still, the family fires have burned for me ever since. The Cushmans are a proud family, with an amazing heritage, and it was instilled in me deep. My grandmother Nell Cushman was an invalid and spent countless hours baby-sitting her grandchildren, and lovingly indoctrinating us.... and believe it or not, it all started with the Mayflower.

The Protestant/Brownist/Separatist Robert Cushman of the "Ancient Brethren" in England was one of two deacons assigned to arrange the charters of the Mayflower and the Speedwell, which were to bring the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620. Robert Cushman came in the second voyage, and preached the first sermon on American soil ( The topic? "The Dangers of Self-Love"). He left his son Thomas in the New World in the care of Governor William Bradford as an indentured servant, and went back to England to become the liaison for the struggling colony. He never returned, as he died soon afterward. But his son Thomas became the ruling Elder at Plymouth for 30 years.

Eight generations later Ralph Cushman left Vermont and studied Law and came to Louisiana to practice his trade. He married Esther Rebecca Brashear, daughter of Belt and Amelia Duvall Brashear in 1832.

Esther Rebecca Brashear Cushman. It is through this distinguished lady and her bloodline that the "Louisiana Fork" Cushmans can trace their genealogy all the way back to Royalty, the Plantagenets and Charlemagne.

Yes, Holy Roman Empire, Magna Carta, THAT Charlemagne!

In 1846 Judge Ralph Cushman was appointed as Judge of the 13th Judicial District Court of Louisiana. In 1853 he was officially elected to that position, and served until he died of Yellow Fever in 1855.
Margery Cushman Kilpatrick, Judge Ralph's only surviving daughter, looked a lot like her father... she wrote her memoirs of Victorian life-and death struggles in Louisiana, named Farewell to Youth, before dying at just 32 years of age..

Judge Ralph and Esther had nine children: Walter Overton (died 1854, age 21),  Margery Eliza (died 1868, age 32), Charles Willard (killed in the Battle of Nashville), Katherine Amelia (died 1846, age 7), Basil Crow, born in 1841, Felix Albert (died 1848, age 5),  Pamela Jane (died 1867, age 22), Edward Cushman (died 1848 as infant), and Mary Louisa (died 1861, age 12). It was tough just trying to stay ALIVE in those days. Margery managed to bear four children to Andrew M. Kilpatrick and wrote precious memoirs about her life in Louisiana later published and called Farewell to Youth.

The Captain of Company E ("Pickett Cadets") in the 30th Louisiana Infantry Battalion (remnants of the Sumter Regiment), Basil and Margery's handsome brother Charles W. Cushman was killed by Yankees in the Battle of Nashville on December 17th, 1864. But luckily his looks were passed on to my brother Reynolds!

General William Tecumseh Sherman, Union Army, formerly instructor at The Louisiana State Seminary and Military School, where he unwittingly trained his future adversaries, including Basil Crow Cushman.

The Cushman name was carried on by a thread... Basil Crow Cushman, and for several generations this was the case; just one son to carry on. That thread was stretched thin as Basil also served in the C.S.A., first as a 4th Sergeant in Company B of the First Regiment Louisiana Infantry, and then as a Private under his brother Charles, where he was quickly promoted to orderly sergeant and then first lieutenant under Col. Gustave Breaux at the Battle of Baton Rouge. He served during the siege of Port Hudson and was taken prisoner on July 9th.  Earlier he had studied at The Louisiana State Seminary and Military School and... his close teacher and friend was none other than William Tecumseh Sherman, who later was to become the feared Union General!  Now they were uncharacteristically fighting to the death. After capture he was held on Johnson's Island on Lake Erie, and he and his old instructor exchanged correspondence, which led to his exchange just weeks before Lee's surrender.
Basil Crow Cushman: Soldier, Cotton Broker, Railroad Treasurer.

 After hostilities ended, Basil Crow Cushman married Jane Bein, daughter of a prominent Louisiana doctor. They were able to raise four out of the six children born to maturity.

Basil started his career as a cotton factor in New Orleans, which he did for 20 years. In 1885 he took a job as the travelling Auditor and later the Treasurer for the Southern Pacific Railroad, headquartered in Houston, Texas.  Basil and his family moved to Texas where he worked for SPRR for four years before going to work for The Texas & New Orleans Railroad, owned by C. P. Huntington. That is him at the roll-top desk on the right.

Basil's pen knife was a 50 year memento of his railroad career. It reads 1872 BBC 1922.

Basil and Jane Bein were married right after the war in 1866. Here are the Louisiana Cushmans about 1876. Left to Right: Jeanie Bein, Jane Bein Cushman, Erwin, Edith, Basil Crow and Matilda (Mattie) Esther. Not pictured were *Basil Kearny and *Walter (Edith's twin), who died at 1 and 3 years of age.

 Basil and his brother Charles fought for the Confederacy. Charles was killed at the battle of Nashville. At the outbreak of the War Between the States, Basil first enlisted in Company B, First Louisiana Infanty, later known as the Louisiana Guard Artillery, then he served a year in the 30th Louisiana Volunteers, and was captured after fighting in Tennessee and Virginia. 

Basil's'wife, Jane Bein Cushman, about 1900. She died in Houston in 1908.

Born in 1839, Jane Bein Cushman was the daughter of Dr. Richard and Mary Bein. Richard Bein was a devoted Louisiana physician who spent a great deal of his time fighting Yellow Fever.

A rare daguerreotype of Dr. Richard Bein of Louisiana.
It was Basil and Jane's only surviving son, Erwin Cushman who married a Texas girl, Carrie Hamilton, in Houston in 1890, and planted his family on Galveston Island around the 1893.  The Island City of  Galveston had become the largest city in the South.

Carrie Hamilton and Erwin Cushman about 1890.
Once again, hardship and disease tooks its toll, and many of the children did not make it... 5 out of 9!
*George Hamilton Cushman 1891-1892
Ralph Bein Cushman 1893- 1993
Jane Bein Cushman 1895-
*Edith Caffery Cushman 1897-1908
*Richard Bein Cushman 1898-1900
Carrie Lillie Cushman 1900-
*Matilda Esther Cushman 1903-died as infant
*Thelma Beatrice Cushman 1905-1906
Catherine Polk Cushman 1908-

1907: Ralph B. Cushman, cousin Henry Jonas and Erwin Cushman. Soon smiles and Erwin would be gone for almost six years.
Erwin was a lovable character, and worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad like his father until poor judgment and personal problems required his removal to parts unknown. So he went to California to get away from his responsibilities and feed his addictions. So my grandfather Ralph B. Cushman went with his family to live under the support of his grandfather Basil in Alexandria. And so he spent a great deal of his youth in Louisiana, after the 1900 Storm, when Galveston was decimated, and was forced to grow up quick when his parents were separated for about six years. But Texas called him back. He eventually managed to marry a Texas girl as well, in 1920.

The Cushman kids at school in Louisiana, about 1902. The LARGE-headed children are the Cushmans. Jane is in the front and in the middle.  Ralph, my father's father is just to the left and above on second row. Little Edith Cushman, (not to be confused with Tante) next to Jane was to pass away when just 15 years old.

A somewhat unmotivated student, young Ralph (my grandfather) convinced his grandfather Basil Crow Cushman to let him tour the U. S., by train of course... to "see what made the world tick." He was given a camera and a VIP pass and went from coast to coast. I asked him what he found in his search... "Avarice! Greed and corruption, from one end of this Country to the other! I got so disgusted I came home early!" Soon he would be fighting for that Country!

Staff Sgt. Major Ralph Cushman on the right, during WWI in occupied France, with his fellow sergeants, Mengele and Shaffer of the 345th Artillery.

Ralph's Army issue spurs used during WWI and Nell's riding spurs. She had very samll feet.

The four generations of Cushmans posed for this picture for the Houston Chronicle, in 1923.
That's my father Ralph B. Cushman Jr., the baby in the middle... where he ALWAYS WAS in everything! That will be a blog by itself! His grandfather Erwin had come back, around 1916 and became a pillar of the Harris County community. Someone out in California had told him about Jesus Christ in a way that touched him, and he decided to accept the Lordship of Christ and soon after he came home and was reconciled with his wife. He helped to build several churches and the Star of Hope Mission in Houston. Erwin worked as the City Secretary for West University Place during its formative years. It is still considered to be a great neighborhood to live in. Erwin is one of my most beloved family heroes. He messed up big time, but he still was able to turn it around and leave a wonderful legacy. Perhaps that is the most telling measure of a man. Most importantly, his wife Carrie took him back, and started afresh out in the country in Waller County. That may be the most telling measure of a woman.

My grandparents, Ralph and Nell Cushman.

Richard S. Cushman, (my uncle) Ralph and Nell Cushman's third child would become a Texas "wildcatter." In other words, he was in the oil drilling business.

Erwin's sisters, Edith (Tante) Cushman Caffery and Mattie Cushman Jonas on horseback in West Texas about 1925.

 A rare Cushman group photo

An Easter gathering at the home of Ralph and Nell Cushman, about 1962. It is totally mixed up, like a sack of puppies!

First Row: Robert E. Cushman, Nell McDougald Cushman, Russell C. Cushman, Ralph B. Cushman Sr., holding Susan Cushman, Reynolds M. Cushman.
Second Row: Margaret Spraggins Cushman, Richard S. Cushman Jr., Ralph B. Cushman III, Richard S. Cushman Sr.
Third Row: Standing behind Richard Jr. is his mother, Edith Cushman.

Missing: My father, Ralph B. Cushman Jr., who took the photo, and his sister Joy Nell Cushman.

One of the most lifelike portaits I have ever seen, painted by Vera Reeks of my Grandmother, Nell McDougald Cushman.

Now in her eighties, Joy has certainly made the family proud. She worked for Shell Oil for several decades, and trained synchronized swimmers and has travelled all around the world while serving as a judge and chaperone for the U. S. Olympic Swimming Teams over the past fifty years.  Her services are still in demand!
Joy Cushman.
Joy Cushman was Ralph B. Cushman Sr.'s middle and (in my opinion) most capable child. She never married or had children, so all of us nephews and one niece got the best aunt you could ever have. Joy made sure we learned how to swim, took us to swimming lessons and on trips. She was often known to send one of us to Mexico or someplace exciting that would expand our horizons. Our family Christmas Trees were always great, but she always seemed to give us the coolest stuff, no matter what. She was the one who played a major role providing all of us a beach house on Galveston Island when we were growing up. She has always been there for us, encouraging and counseling us when we needed it, and when we were too strong-willed to listen to our parents. She has always been there to lend a helping hand, and has been a great role model for hundreds if not thousands of young people over the years. Joy has always been a straight talker, but she has always been fair and tolerant. She has always practiced unconditional love, and tough love when necessary, but we always knew she was on our side. Thank you Joy!
Yes we were all skinny once. An afternoon at the beach house at Bay Harbor on Galveston Island. Joy's favorite saying goes something like this... when  considering life and success:
"It's not how much you made, but how much you gave."



1 comment:

  1. I'm John Parker Woods, the son of the late Palmer Parker Woods (AKA Henry Parker Woods) and I am looking for relatives of his relative Joy Nell Cushman and Richard Cushman who wish to attend his memorial on Oct 20th, 1:30 pm at the Rosemont Assisted Living home.Please contact me for details.