The family here described is one descended from sturdy Irish stock, which has contributed so largely to the building up of a race of patriotic, useful citizens. Their ancestors were small landholders of Ireland, and were hard-working and industriuos, making the best of their circumstances and opporunities, and since finding in America a wider field of usefullness and endeavor have made themsleves influential and prominent in the land of their adoption.
(I) James Cavanagh, who spent the greater part of his life in Plattsburgh, N.Y., was born April 8, 1840 in Camolin, county Wexford, Ireland, and was the fifth of six children. His father died when he was seven years old, and soon after his mother sold their small home, and after seven weeks spent on the water, reached America with her children. They went up Underhill, Vermont, where Mrs. Cavanagh had a sister, and there they remained until the death of the mother, purchasing a farm, which they cultivated. After the death of his mother, James, who was about fourteen year os age, worked two years as a farm hand, attending school through the winters, and at sixteen years of age began teaching school during the winter, continuing for three years. Thereafter he spent eight years in the employ of Shedd & Walker, of Burlington, Vermont. In 1865 Mr. Cavanagh removed to Plattsburgh, where he engaged in business in company with Shedd & Walker, the firm name being James Cavanagh & Company, in the stone store now occupied  by the Northern Provision Company. In 1871 he bought out the interests of his partners, and therafter conducted business alone, until his sons joined him in business. Mr. Cavanagh was a man of industry and thrift, and until a few years before his death was actively engaged in business. Five or six years before his death he suffered a slight stroke of paralysis, from which he seemed to recover, but his health began to decline, and for some months before his death he suffered from severe Bright's disease. He passed away at his home on Macomb street, Plattsburgh, Oct. 6, 1908.
James Cavanagh was a man of high ideals and strong character, and his great regard for honest principles and business integrity was recognized by all. Though he was ambitious, and amassed a large fortune, his methods were ever above reproach, and those with whom he had dealings never had cause to complain of the outcome. He was naturally shrewd, and the fact of his having had his own way to make from early boyhood sharpened his keen business instinctsm so that his hard work and enterprise were amply rewarded, At the time of his settling in Plattsburgh the town and immediate vicinity offered unusual opportunities for business investment, and Mr. Cavanagh was awake to the possibilities of the situation, and took advantage of his chances for financial enterprise and success.
He was a devout attendant of the Presbyterian church of Plattsburgh, continuing until the death of its pastor and the disbanding of the congregation and later became an attendant of the First Presbyterian Chuch. In politics he was independent, and although interested in all public affairs never cared for political office for himself. However, he served some time as trustee of the village of Plattsburgh. He encouraged the business growth of the community, and ws a charter member of the old Iron National Bank, of which he served as director several years. At the time of hs death he was a director and vice-president of the Plattsburgh National Bank.
May 2, 1867, Mr. Cavanagh married Jane Elizabeth Barber, of Chazy, who died five years later, having one son, George E., Aug. 26, 1874. He married (second) Emma Dunning, of Champlain, and they had two sons, William of Plattsburgh, and Albert of New York City. Mrs. Cavanagh died Nov. 29, 1899. Mr. Cavanagh married (third), Oct. 1902, Helena C. Augustin, of Plattsburgh, who still resides in that city. She is a native of Prussia, and came with a brother to New York City when quite young, and there recieved her education. Later she located in Plattsburgh, where she opened a private kindergarten school, the first in the city. She remained as proprietess of the school for twenty-five years, and became well known and successful in the enterprise. She and her husband had no children.
(II) George E., son of James and Jane Elizabeth (Barber) Cavanagh, was born July 10, 1870, at Plattsburgh, N.Y. His mother, who was a daughter of George W. Barber, died in 1872, when he was very young. He was educated in his native city, and there has spent all his life. Upon reaching manhood he became associated in business with his father, and later became a traveling salesman. Some years ago he and his brother William became business partners with their father, and after his death continued to carry on his business.
George E. Cavanagh is now head of the firm and has inherited his father's natural aptitude in financial affairs, as well as his integrity and industry. Mr. Cavanagh has business acumen and ambition, and his prospects are very promising. He is public-spirited and patriotic, and takes a keen interest in the welfare and prosperity of his city, county and state. In politics he is a Republican. He is affiliated with the Presbyterian church. He is a member of Plattsburgh Council, No. 371, U. C. T., past councillor. Mr. Cavanagh greatly reveres his father's memory, and has a wholesome respect for the achiements of that successful and self-made man, and in company with his two brothers and his father's widow has given a memorial to James Cavanagh, consisting of a gift to Champlain Valley Hospital of equipment for its operating room, including instruments, etc., to the amount of two thousand dollars.
Mr. Cavanagh married, June 16, 1897, in Saranac, N.Y., Edith L., daughter of J. Nelson and M. Frances (Haynes) True.
Children, born in Plattsburgh:
Elizabeth B., August 1902
Jane Frances, May, 1904.
James Ellsworth, August 1907.