North Carolina Architects and Builders - A Biographical Dictionary

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Cushing, Isaac T. (ca. 1777-1846)

Birthplace: Massachusetts, USA
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Millwright
NC Work Locations:
  • Cumberland County
  • Cumberland
  • Wake County
  • Wake
Building Types:
  • Industrial


Isaac T. Cushing (ca. 1777-1846) came to North Carolina about 1808 as an experienced northern millwright to build some of the state's first factories, then moved on to Georgia. The Cushing family was numerous in Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England. Although relatively little is known of his life and career, he represents an important pattern of northern immigrants' expertise in building the early industrial plants in the state. In 1808 Raleigh newspaper owner Joseph Gales built a paper mill from directions by Cushing, "a Northern Mechanic" then new to Raleigh. In 1809 the Raleigh Star reported on industrial accomplishments, noting that Cushing had built papermills in Raleigh and Fayetteville as well as a nail-cutting factory in Fayetteville, an early 19th century center of manufacturing. Isaac T. Cushing married Lydia Sims in Wake County in April, 1809, and, presumably after her death, he married Elizabeth Landsdale in Cumberland County in February, 1810. He is probably the "I" or "T" Cushing listed in the United States Census in Cumberland County in 1810.

In the 1810s Cushing was busy "in the Saw and Flour Mill line" and was also manufacturing milling machinery. He served in the Cumberland County militia in the War of 1812. In 1816, still in Fayetteville, he advertised in the Fayetteville American, April 26, 1816, that he was continuing to make saw mill cranks (but he refused to repair defective mill cranks from Philadelphia because of their bad quality iron). He also sought two apprentices aged 15 to 19 for the blacksmith's trade—"colored boys would be preferred." By 1820, Isaac T. Cushing had moved to Milledgeville, Georgia.There in 1818 he established a large blacksmith's shop at the state penitentiary, from which he advertised his products in the local Reflector. He was probably the Isaac Cushing who died in Macon County, Georgia, in 1846, aged 69.

Author: Catherine W. Bishir.

Published 2009

Isaac T. Cushing's Work Locations


  • Fayetteville People's Friend, Dec. 15, 1815.
  • North Carolina Militia Records, Cumberland County, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Raleigh Star, Mar. 2, 1809.
  • United States Census.

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