JOHN PERKINS CUSHING
Other merchants and sea captains of old Boston: being more information about the merchants and sea captains of old Boston who played such an important part in building up the commerce of New England, together with some quaint and curious stories of the sea
John Perkins Cushing, called "Ku-Shing" by the Chinese, sailed for China when only sixteen years old, to take the position of clerk in the counting-house of his uncle, Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins. The head of the firm in China at this time was Ephraim Bumstead, who was soon obliged to leave Canton on account of illness, and died at sea. Young Cushing, therefore, arrived in China at this early age to find that he was the only representative of the Perkins firm in the East. Colonel Perkins, on hearing of Mr. Bumstead's death, at once prepared to go to China, but just before sailing he received letters from the young apprentice, who presented the condition of affairs in such a favorable light that the intended journey was abandoned. Cushing managed the affairs of the firm so skilfully that the consignments continually increased. He was soon taken into partnership with the Perkinses and continued with them until the consolidation of their firm with Russell & Co. in 1827.
Mr. Cushing relates an incident that happened concerning one of the Chinese merchants called Yeeshing, with whom he had business transactions, showing the honesty and unselfishness of the average Chinese merchant. On the occasion of the great fire in 1822, large amounts of merchandise were destroyed. Mr. Cushing had placed with Yeeshing five thousand pieces of crapes, valued at $50,000, to be dyed, and there was no insurance upon them, as nothing of the kind existed at Canton. A day or two after the fire Yeeshing entered Mr. Cushing's office....The honest Chinaman had saved Mr. Cushing's crapes, but had lost his own dwelling and its contents, with most of his own goods. Cushing returned to Boston a few years later, having been most successful in his China venture, and soon after his arrival married the only daughter of the Rev. John Sylvester Gardiner of Trinity Church, Boston. It was rumored at the time of his engagement that there was much disappointment among the young marriageable belles of Boston, who, as some one expressed it, "beset him like bumblebees about a lump of sugar."
MARY LOUISA CUSHING
Cushing and his young wife had a wonderful house at Watertown, now a part of Belmont, the latter town being called after the name of his place. His house was one of the finest and most comfortable of any in or near Boston, and was a double one,—a house within a house,—so as to be warm in winter and cool in summer. The spacious grounds and beautiful gardens were open to the public, and thousands of visitors went out there each year. Once when the assessors called upon him to question him as to his taxes, he asked, "What is the entire amount to be raised?" The sum was named by the assessors, whereupon Mr. Cushing said, "You can charge the whole amount to me." The homestead is now the residence of Colonel Everett C. Benton.
Cushing's sons used to spend their week-days in Boston with their grandmother, Mrs. Gardiner, in order to be near school, and on Saturdays, as Mrs. R. B. Forbes relates in one of her letters, the large Cushing carriage came to Temple Place—at that time usually referred to as " The Court "—to take the boys home to Belmont. Mrs. Forbesalso speaks of the wonderful children's parties given by Mr. Cushing, to which the boys and girls of Boston looked forward with joy,—of the haystacks; of the ponies for the children to ride; of the music; of the fire-balloons; of the dancing on the lawn, with the well-known dancing-teacher Papanti in charge; and of the procession of the children to the supper-table. Copley once said that one of these parties was the prettiest scene he had ever witnessed.
The fete of June 17, 1840, seems to have been especially attractive, and as the children left the grounds they shouted, "Hurrah for Cushing forever!" There were many boys and girls there whose fathers were on the water or in foreign countries, and one little child on being asked where his father was, answered, "Dear papa done Tanton" (gone Canton). The mention of Temple Place suggests the remark of an old Bostonian to whom a certain family had given an opinion that he thought to be wrong; with a twinkle in his eye, he said, " I dare say they are wrong; you know, they do not live in Temple Place!" The Cushing townhouse stood where Nos. 25 and 27 are to-day on Temple Place.
Cushing was very fond of the Perkins family, and often brought to the house presents of large boxes of the finest white sugar. He spent much time at their house, and when one heard "deuce, ace, tray," it was safe to assume that either William Appleton or Cushing was engaged in a backgammon contest with Colonel Perkins. Cushing enjoyed at the Perkins house the often-described cambric teas, the dipped toast, the oblong squares of gingerbread marked out so carefully in parallel lines, and the delicious East India preserves; he was also one of those present at the last Thanksgiving dinner that the Colonel and his wife had together. He took an active part in public enterprises, and was one of the most benevolent and respected citizens of the State. He was of a very retiring disposition, and it is believed that there is no picture of him in existence.
Massachusetts State Representatives Edward Whitman Chapin, Benjamin Connor Currier, John Cushing, John Edward Fitzgerald, Jesse Edson Keith, Asa Porter Morse, Andrew Marathon Morton, Daniel Augustus Patch, John Perkins, Francis Edward Porter, John Warren Regan, Nathan Beebe Seaver