My dad was the son of an Irish/English father. That makes me a bit Irish, but not nearly close to that of Patrick Cudahy, born on this day, 1849, in Callan. County Kilkenny, Ireland. He didn’t live long in his birthplace. His parents moved to America only a few months after his birth. They settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – My birthplace.
Ireland was a dreary place to live in 1849. Queen Victoria visited the island early in her monarchy and was amazed at the famine, poverty and sickness there. Masterpiece Theater recently did a series on Victoria, including the plight that swept over the island, sending many in search of new lands and opportunities. Milwaukee held promise for the family. There were a variety of industries already established there and it had become a melting pot of immigration.
Patrick attended schools within the Milwaukee School District. He began working at Plankinton Armor Meat Packing Company at the age of 14. His strong work ethic and determination landed him a job as supervisor when he was only 25. Ten years later, after the dissolution of the company, Cudahy became Plankinton’s partner. Plankinton retired in 1888 and Patrick’s brother bought into the company and became partners with his brother.
The two men eventually purchased land south of Milwaukee for their operations. That town was named after them – Cudahy, Wisconsin. Some of the best bacon produced came out of their plant. Not only the eating kind of bacon, but the success kind. Patrick continued to bring home the bacon with his meat packing business along with banking and real estate ventures. He was a benefactor for many charities. He married Anna and they had two sons. He passed away September 25, 1919.n
This son of Ireland, grew a great business in the Milwaukee area. He wrote his biography during his later years in which you can see a heritage of hard working family members. The American Dream was still alive at that time in our history. Men could come to our land with nothing in their pockets and quickly make a name for themselves through hard work and determination. Some might call it the luck of the Irish, but I think it’s more than luck.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PATRICK CUDAHY