Dennis Cussen was born in 1800 in Galbally, County Limerick, Ireland. He was a cooper, a trade he learned from his eight brothers. In 1825, he married Catherine Casey at Christ the King Catholic church in Galbally, and over the next several years they raised a family there. Catherine had also been born in Galbally, in 1806. Their Irish born children were Edmund (1826), John (1828), William (1830), Timothy (1832), Michael (1834), Johanna (1836), Patrick (1839), and Ellen (1841). In about 1842, the Cussen family boarded a ship for St. John's, New Brunswick, Canada, spending seven weeks at sea. Shortly afterwards, they moved to the Boston area. In 1845, they were living in Stoughton, Massachusetts, about 12 miles southwest of Boston. Reportedly, some of the older children were left behind, but this now seems unlikely.
Dennis worked as a cooper for Downers Oil Manufacturing Company (manufacturer of "oil and sperm candles") in Boston (100 State St. in 1847, possibly 27 Broad in 1845). He probably made barrels for whale oil. Two more children, Dennis (1845) and Mary (1847) were born in Stoughton. In about 1848, the family moved to Milwaukee, and then to a farm in Fort Winnebago, near Portage, Wisconsin. I haven't researched land records in Portage yet, but we do know from the plat maps and few deeds that we have that Dennis and Catherine owned a large amount of land adjacent to the Fox River. (The Cushing farms extended approximately 8 miles south and 12 miles north of the present day Clark Road, from Currie Road east to the Fox River.) Our family history tells us that Dennis opened a blacksmith shop, but the US population census tells us that he was a farmer. 16 year old George and 9 year old Henry are part of the family in 1850. I'm not sure whether these are two additional sons or whether these are other names for Michael and Patrick, respectively, who are not among the Cussen children in the 1850 census. In Fort Winnebago, the youngest members of the family, Francis (1850) and Adam (1853), were born.
St. Mary's cemetery in Portage.
Dennis (father) passed away in 1872. Catherine lived with Dennis Jr. and his family, probably on the family farm. In the 1880 census, she is described as both blind and disabled. She passed away in 1888. Both she and Dennis (Sr.) are buried in St. Mary's cemetery in Portage. (Their grave markers disappeared, but cemetery records show they are buried there. In 2003, a group of their descendants met to place and consecrate a marker over their graves - at least, their best estimate of the grave locations using cemetery records - in the St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery.)