What do you know about Barney Cussick?

How did Chico come to name a street Cussick Avenue?

Well, it was named after Barney Cussick.

But who was Barney Cussick?


January 27, 1848:  Bernard “Barney” Cussick was born in Livingston County, New York.

"Barney" Cussick, as he was called by his intimate friends and business associates, was, a son of Bernard Cussick. He was reared on a farm until he was eighteen, meantime attending the public schools of his native county. He went to Michigan and, at Midland City, some twenty miles north of Saginaw, went to work at lumbering under John Haley, one of the best lumbermen of that area. He remained there for five years, in the meantime learning about all there was to know of the business, for he worked in every department.
1876:  At age 28 he moved to Eureka, California to work in lumbering.

1877:  He moved to Butte County to work for the Sierra Lumber Company.

1879:  In 1879, in Saginaw, Michigan, Mr. Cussick was united in marriage with Miss Margaret Keeley, a native of Kingston, Canada, and a daughter of William and Joanna (Murphy) Keeley. In 1879 she came to California with Barney, where she resided until death. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Cussick, only one of whom lived to adulthood.  Mrs. Cussick was a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

1880’s:  Barney Cussick became widely known in the lumber business around Chico and the

Humboldt Wagon Road.  He acted as an ambassador showing visitors around and always keeping the press informed of lumbering activities.  When the new Arcade Mill opened, in about 1881, Barney not only had the log contract but he also supervised the construction and operation of this new mill in Chico Meadows.

 Barney Cussick was the first to start using stationary steam-powered hoisting equipment in this region in the first part of the decade.  He was also the first to use Dolbeer donkey engines and steam-hoisting equipment for logging in the Sierra.

 1884:  Barney Cussick became the Sierra Lumber Company, Chico Division, mountain manager.

 1888:  In 1888, tragedy struck the family when their five-year-old daughter Maggie passed away from a two-week stomach ailment.  She died on July 29 and was buried in the Butte Meadows cemetery.

1888:  By then he had established the “Hoist House” at the Smokey Creek Mill.

1888:  In 1888, tragedy struck the family when their five-year-old daughter Maggie passed away from a two-week stomach ailment.  She died on July 29 and was buried in the Butte Meadows cemetery.

1895:  Barney resigned from Sierra Lumber in the summer of 1895 due to poor health and handed the reins to his younger brother John.  John “Jack” Cussick took over as superintendent of the Mill.

 1895:  Barney Cussick purchased 200 acres of orchard land in Chico.

 Barney Cussick eventually became a prominent citizen and highly successful businessman in Chico.

Circa 1902:  He was possibly best known during this time for subdividing a large part of John Bidwell’s landholdings and developing the Chico orchard district.  Bernard Cussick laid out and sold several tracts of John Bidwell’s Rancho Chico, Chico, Butte County, California

1902:  He began playing an integral role in real-estate development for the Diamond Match Company and other real estate activities.

 Cussick began picking up the acreage in October 1902, by the county records, and by November 1902, THE CHICO INVESTMENT COMPANY was established.

This was incorporated November 26, 1902 to deal in real estate, mines, power sites and the like.  Capitalized at $30,000 of which $18,000 was subscribed.  F. M. Clough was the heaviest stockholder with $12,000.00; the others were John R. Robinson, John B. Robinson, Barney Cussick, Charles A. Dreiss, Major A. F. Jones, W. P. Lynch.

The primary function of this company was to buy acreage and subdivide it. Including house building, to make the model town envisioned to spring up around the Diamond Match plants at Barber.  Three such subdivisions were made by this company; the Davis Addition, April 9, 1903, of 137 lots; the Barber First Addition, August 9, 1903, of 259 lots; and the Barber Second Addition May 10, 1905, of 53 lots.  In general, this area is now covered by the property laying south of Little Chico creek, west of Park Avenue and east of the Diamond property line.  The south boundary is what is now 22nd Street.  One of the finest houses erected was that at 1384 South Broadway which Clough built for himself.  He occupied it until he left Diamond’s employ at which time Diamond purchased it from him for $12,500.  It was then used as the General Manager’s house during V. S. Woolley’s tenure, 1910-1916, when it was sold to E. T. Williamson.

 1912:  He was the Vice President of Butte County Savings Bank as indicated in The Normal Record. January 1912. (Courtesy: Meriam Library, California)

 January 14, 1917:  Bernard “Barney” Cussick died suddenly and was buried in the Chico Cemetery.

He was buried with Masonic honors in the Masonic row in the Chico Cemetery, having been a Knight Templar Mason. He was an Elk and an Odd Fellow and lived up to the precepts of these orders.

His wife Margaret Keeley Cussick, and their daughter, Clara Cussick Young, are also buried in the Chico Cemetery in the family plot.

 Although Barney was instrumental in the business development of Butte County, there is only a street named in Chico, to honor him now.  By 1960, Cussick Avenue had been established.  Cussick Avenue is on the north side of Chico and links Holly Avenue with Bay. The area bordered by Cussick/Holly Avenues, Henshaw Avenue, Nord Avenue and Lindo Channel is sometimes referred to as “The Cussick Neighborhood”.

So Barney Cussick’s name lives on as a street name and a neighborhood.