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Featured Family Member - James Cavanagh

Settler - Kenosha, Wisconsin

You can read about more of our early settlers and pioneers in the Records section. If you have a biography of one of the Caomhánach trailblazers then please send it in to me here

James Cavanagh was born in the city of Kenosha 23 January 1853. His father, James Cavanagh, was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, and came to America in 1842. While in Ireland he was engaged in farming but following his arrival in America in 1842 was employed for several years at Kenosha, Wisconsin, as a landscape gardener. In the year 1856 he purchased a farm in the town of Bristol, Kenosha county, Wisconsin, and for the remainder of his life was a farmer. He was married to Catherine Cox at Kenosha in 1851. He died on the homestead farm in November 1861, and was long survived by his widow Catherine, who passed away in 1893. They were communicants of the Catholic church.

There were three children in the family but two daughters died in early life. James Cavanagh was eight years of age at the time of his father's death. He remained with his mother upon the home farm for a considerable period and commenced teaching in the common schools when he was sixteen years of age. During vacations he worked upon the farm. In 1872 he entered the Oskosh Normal School with the intention of preparing for the profession of teaching. After having taught school for six years he concluded to enter the legal profession. During the last two years in which he taught school he also read law privately. In July 1876 he entered the law office of J. V. & C. Quarles at Kenosha, and read law under their direction. In November 1876 he passed the required examinations for admission to the Wisconsin bar and was admitted to practice. In March 1877 he commenced the practice of law at Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and remained there until September 1878, when he returned to Kenosha, where he has practiced ever since.

For four years during the '80s he served as district attorney of Kenosha county. For eight years, commencing in the early '80s he was superintendent of schools of Kenosha. He has specialized to a considerable extent in corporation law and has been retained as counsel by many important industries. He is now actively connected with several of the leading institutions of Kenosha as a stockholder.

On 25 April 1877 Mr. Cavanagh was married to Miss Nellie Parkinson, daughter of Reuben and Chloe (Pratt) Parkinson of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. They are the parents of two children, Walter J., who is married and is engaged in the manufacture of automobile seat springs at Toledo, Ohio; and Richard P., who studied in the University of Wisconsin and for two years at the Northwestern Law School at Chicago, after which he was admitted to the Wisconsin bar in 1911 and is now engaged in practice with his father. He is married and has one child.

Mr. Cavanagh is a member of the Republican party and a representative of its more progressive interests. He has never sought nor desired public office outside the path of his profession but has been connected with the public welfare in many ways and has done much work for the educational interests of Kenosha. Fraternally he is connected with the Modern Woodman of America. He now is and always has been intensely interested in the welfare of Kenosha and has done everything in his power to promote the interests of his native city.

Source : The History of Kenosha and Kenosha Co WI, Vol II, F. Lyman, S. C. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1916, pp 40-41

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