Why is the Town named Cusick? - Cusick, WA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 48° 20.238 W 117° 17.610
11U E 478249 N 5353832
Quick Description: In the little town of Cusick, Washington is a park along the Pend Oreille River. In the park are two signs which relate some of its history. This one tells us how it came to be called Cusick.
Location: Washington, United States
Date Posted: 4/10/2015 10:23:55 AM
Waymark Code: WMNNT9
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member thebeav69
Views: 1

Long Description:
Why is the Town named Cusick?

Joe Cusick purchased a 160 acre parcel from Kalispel Chief Masseslow (Kalispel Tribe of Indians) at the present site of Cusick. It is impressive that he actually purchased the land and did not just settle in and take possession. The Kalispels shared food and their knowledge of how to harvest and cook the camas root, a staple in their diet. The homestead was on the Pend Oreille and Calispel Rivers before dams and dikes provided some flood protection and this whole area would be under four feet of water in high water years. Joe's homestead was on the highest ground and was usually spared from the flood waters. His first house burned shortly after it was built and they stayed in their chicken coop. They survived hard winters which halted the river boats and tragedy struck on October 10th, 1900, when Joe's wife Ella died in child birth at the age of 27.

There are many noteworthy pioneers who helped develop the area and it turns out Joe Cusick had a knack for business. Starting a steamboat business, navigating the boat "Red Cloud", earning the title Captain. In 1902 he began platting his homestead into a town site. In 1906 he sold his holdings in his riverboat business since the railroad was gaining a foothold and he could foresee it was only a matter of time before his riverboat business would decline. In 1909 he installed a water works system and electric lights to supply the rapidly emerging businesses. A telephone line was run from Newport to Cusick the same year. Businesses included a post office, town hall, a log school house, a commercial hotel, two saloons, a livery and feed stable, a stage line and two sawmills.

By 1912 the town had grown enough to support additional businesses and services boasting a doctor and pharmacy, a part-time dentist, a confectionery and Wike Hall which over the years served as a dance hall, theater community hall and an office for the forest service. There were other businesses like a meat market, notary public, justice of the peace, Cusick Land Company, contractors and builders and blacksmith. Cusick's first church, organized in 1908, was a Pilgrim Congregational Church.

On August 14th, 1915, Joe killed a former employee, Harry Kilburn. After two trials, Joe Cusick was found guilty of second-degree murder and it was the longest and most costly trial in the history of Pend Oreille County to that date. Joe's finances were exhausted during the first trial and his brother had to mortgage his farm to help pay costs of the second trial. Joe was sentenced to 17 years in Walla Walla State Penitentiary. After four years he was granted a full pardon by WA State Governor Louis F. Hart. After re-evaluating Joe's case it was determined that numerous errors, lies from witnesses, and further evidence supported self-defense. After he was released from prison, his daughter took him to California and he lived there his remaining days, passing away on March 21st, 1927 at age 59. He never returned to the town he worked so hard to establish boasting a population of 380 within the town limits. But he left his mark on the history of the county by carving an empire out of the wilderness.

The Cusick Park site once was the home to sawmills which employed many people in the valley. Unfortunately the little town never really saw that type of commerce again. But today it is home to 200 people and the Cusick School District. The park is an open space providing activities for the people of today and although history throughout the town was not well preserved in old buildings. several structures remaining when the mill was removed were incorporated into the design for the viewpoint and picnic shelter.
From the NRHP Plaque

Photo goes Here

Marker Name: Why is the Town named Cusick?

Marker Type: City

Town name: Cusick

Placer: Town of Cusick

Date marker was placed: Not listed

Related website: Not listed

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