Online Exhibits@Yale

Family and Childhood

Harvey Cushing, born in Cleveland in 1869, was proud to be descended from a long line of Cushing doctors. His great-grandfather David Cushing, Jr., practiced in Massachusetts in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. His grandfather, Erastus Cushing, moved his family and medical practice to Cleveland. His father, Henry Kirke also became a prominent Cleveland physician. Though Harvey Cushing moved away from Cleveland, his older brother Edward (Ned) and Ned’s son Pat carried on the series of Cleveland Cushing doctors.

Genealogy of the Cushing Family

Cushing Family Genealogy, 1905

The Cushing family in America is descended from Matthew Cushing and his wife, Nazareth Pitcher, Puritans who arrived with their children from England in 1638 and settled in Hingham, Massachusetts. This is Harvey Cushing’s copy of the genealogy, signed and dated in 1906.

James C. Cushing, Genealogy of the Cushing Family. Montreal, 1905.

David Cushing’s Medical Account Book and Ledger

David Cushing’s Medical Account Book and Ledger, 1803-1816

David Cushing, Jr. (1768-1814), first in the line of Cushing doctors, moved west from Rehoboth, Massachusetts to South Adams, Massachusetts. Though trained only by apprentice, he developed a prosperous medical practice.

Erastus Cushing portrait

Erastus Cushing, Harvey Cushing’s Grandfather

Erastus Cushing (1802-1893), son of David and Freelove Jencks Cushing, moved west to Cleveland, the former Western Reserve of Connecticut, in 1835. After studying medicine with a local preceptor in Massachusetts, he took two formal “courses” of medicine at the college of Physicians and Surgeons and at the Berkshire Medical College in Pittsfield, Mass., where he received his M.D. in 1824. Later he attended lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, where he developed a special interest in obstetrics. Remembered as a kindly man, Erastus Cushing lectured at Cleveland Medical College and became one of city’s most respected physicians.

This photograph was taken from a posthumous portrait by W.H. Brough, now at Case-Western Reserve University.

Erastus Cushing and "Jack"

Erastus Cushing and "Jack"

Erastus Cushing at ca. 1890 with Harvey Cushing’s dog, Jack. He lived past Harvey’s graduation from Yale.

Henry Kirke Cushing

Father, Henry Kirke Cushing

Henry Kirke Cushing (1827-1910), known as Kirke, was the eldest son of Erastus and Mary Ann Platt Cushing. After graduating from Union College in Schenectady, he studied medicine with his father and at the Cleveland Medical College. He then attended another course at the University of Pennsylvania, obtaining his M.D. Though he would have liked to stay in Philadelphia longer, he returned to Cleveland to practice with his father. An unremitting worker, his medical practice became quite prosperous. As a father himself, he was stern and strict and yet had wide-ranging interests and a good sense of humor.

Bessie Cushing

Mother, Bessie Williams Cushing

Betsey Maria Williams (Bessie) Cushing (1828-1903) was also from a New England Puritan family that moved west to Connecticut’s Western Reserve. She married Kirke Cushing in 1851. Michael Bliss writes of her: "Bessie’s mother love was as boundless as her belief in reading, education, music, family loyalty, cleanliness, temperance, and regular attendance at the Presbyterians’ Old Stone Church….None of the Cushing children ever recorded a word of criticism about their perfectly wonderful mother."

Harvey Cushing at Age 2

Harvey Cushing

Cushing was born in Cleveland on April 8, 1869, the last of ten children (seven of whom lived to maturity) of Henry Kirke and Betsey Maria Cushing. Harvey Cushing is shown here at age two.

Cushing family home in Cleveland

The Cushing Home

The family moved to this comfortable home at 786 Prospect Street, Cleveland, when Harvey was four years old. The Cushings were part of a close-knit community of Cleveland relatives on both sides of the family.

Harvey Cushing and his older brother, Alleyne

Harvey and His Older Brother Alleyne

Harvey is on the right.

Boating expedition, Summer of 1884

Boating expedition, Summer of 1884

Harvey Cushing’s high school physics teacher, Newton Anderson, took Harvey and three cousins on a fishing expedition up the Great Lakes in 1884. Anderson later bought an island where he set up an informal boys camp, known as Camp Maskenoza, where Harvey spent summers.

Front row: A. F. Harvey, E.M. Williams, Harvey Cushing 
Back row: Newton Anderson, Perry W. Harvey (later Cushing’s roommate at Yale)

Family and Childhood