Biography of Benjamin Cummings
Bristol County, MA Biographies

Cummings, Benjamin, was born in Dartmouth, Mass., on April 7, 1797, and died in New Bedford on September 28, 1863. He was the son of Benjamin and Mehitable (Ryder) Cummings, being the youngest of a large family. In his early years he was engaged in business with his brothers, William and John, in Dartmouth, where they had a large and successful store. On January 27, 1820, being then twenty two years old, he married Cynthia Smith, daughter of Henry and Mary (Almy) Smith, who owned a large tract of land in Dartmouth on the Paskamanset River, which is still kept in the family. Soon after his marriage he left the store and devoted his attention to his farm and the many business interests connected with it. There was a valuable water power which was used for a saw mill, grist mill, and fulling mill, all of which called for his attention and were successfully managed. At that time the whaling business flourished greatly and naturally attracted him, and he soon began to invest in whaling vessels. He found interest and profit in this, and increased his investments until he was part owner in a large number of whalers, one of which was named for him, and bore as a figurehead a full length likeness of him carved in wood, which was thought singularly true to life. He also invested largely in real estate in New Bedford and the accuracy of his judgment has been indicated in the development of the city. In 1857 the built the "Cummings Building" on the corner of William and Purchase streets, in which enterprise his brother William joined. At that time the building was the largest and finest in the city, and the wisdom of it from a financial standpoint was doubted by many, but the result proved his judgment correct, and his building did much to fix the business center of the city. In 1855 he moved from Dartmouth to New Bedford to the house where his widow still lives, and in which he died seven years later. He had ten children, of whom four daughters and a son are still living. His life was one of intense activity and he was just beginning to relax his attention to business at the time of his death. He had found time to be a trustee of Antioch College, in which he was much interested. He liked trees and flowers and all out of door things and took great pleasure and pride in his garden. The old age to which he had looked forward as a time when he could enjoy these things and the property he had accumulated, to which he had looked as a means rather than an end, was denied him, and he died leaving the reputation of an honorable and upright man in whom his family can feel just pride.

Our county and its people
A descriptive and biographical history of
Bristol County, Massachusetts
Prepaired and published under the auspices of
The Fall River News and The Taunton Gasette
With assistance of Hon. Alanson Borden
The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1899.

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