McCUEN, NICHOLAS J. resident of the city of Vergennes, Vt., son of Robert and Mary (Foster) McCuen, was born in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland, on the 15th day of August, 1851, and came to this country at the age six months.
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A portion of his father’s early days was passed in England. Later he owned and carried on a farm, owned and ran a number of looms for the manufacture of linen; also he speculated quite extensively in grain and mill stuff. Adverse circumstances, caused by the failure of crops in 1847, induced him to come to this country, where he prospered, and was in comfortable circumstances at his death, which came by paralysis on the 22d of July, 1882. His mother was born in Ireland (an only daughter). Her parents died when she was about fourteen years of age, leaving her a comfortable home. Her people being lovers of education, she was much interested in encouraging her son in that direction. She died of paralysis December 18, 1882.
N. J. McCuen, when between the age of ten and twelve years, earned a part of his tuition and attended the private school of B. B. Allen, where he made rapid progress in his studies, receiving favors and compliments from “Uncle Ben,” the kind and faithful old schoolmaster.
At not quite the age of thirteen he entered one of the stores of Vergennes as a clerk, and retained the position until January 11, 1871, he then being nineteen years of age, when he purchased a stock of goods and entered into business for himself, his capital being what he had been able to save out of the mere salary of a clerkship of six years. His strict attention to business, temperance principles, honesty and integrity, keeping his word, and unfailing fairness towards his customers and those of whom he purchased goods gained the confidence of the public in an incredibly short time and demonstrated the value of these admirable qualities. His ales the first year amounted to about $25,000, and have steadily increased until now they have reached the gratifying proportions indicated by the sum of $60,000. His stock consists of goods of every description. His business is so thoroughly systematized and classified that he can perform the duties with half the labor that would be expended by an unmethodical merchant.
As soon as Mr. McCuen was of the age to study the political questions of the day he identified himself with the Republican party, and with characteristic wholeheartedness dedicated his energies to its support. While he has not sought office, he has not avoided its responsibilities, and has acted in accordance with his opinion that the duty of contributing in every way to the prompt and economical performance of public trusts devolves upon all citizens. In 1818 he was chosen water commissioner of the city water works, and inaugurated a system which was accepted and is in use at the present time, which gave him much credit.
In 1880 he was elected common councilman, and attended to the duties of the office, much to the benefit of the city, in collecting the taxes that year in full, besides being a faithful servant for and of the people. The next two or three years he was brought forward by the people for alderman and elected; but, preferring to give his whole time to his business, he declined to serve, resigned, and was excused.
In 1886 he was elected mayor of the city by a gratifying majority, which office he now holds; and by virtue of the same he is chief judge of the City Court.
Mr. McCuen is one of the live, generous-hearted, public-spirited men of the place, and has always been a friend to the poor. His parents belonged to the English Church, and he, being made a member when a child, has always been an active member of St. Paul’s Protestant Episcopal Church of Vergennes, and has been secretary of the vestry for a number of years. He was united in marriage on the 24th of December, 1872, with Kate H., daughter of Solomon and Louisa L. (Herrick) Allen.
She was born at the old homestead in Panton, Vt., where three generations of Allens owned and resided (descendants of Ethan Allen). They have two children – Charles Nicholas, born on the 14th day of August, 1875, and Robert William, born on the 30th day of May, 1880. He and his family own and occupy one of the finest residences in the city, on Main street, which is worthy of mention for the reason that the architecture and arrangement of the house was planned wholly by Mr. McCuen.