Joseph B. Cummings is one of the distinguished and honored residents of Greene county, having gained prominence in political as well as in business circles. He stands to-day a strong man, strong in his honor and his good name, and his value to the communitv by what he has done in behalf of the county is widely recognized. His birth occurred May 31, 1841, on a farm in Caesarscreek township, where he now resides. His father, Thomas B. Cummings, was born in Bucks county, Pennsylvania, February 6, 1814, and there spent the days of his boyhood and youth, coming to the west when twentv-two vears of age. He engaged in teaching' in his native county in early life, but believing that he would have better business opportunities in the new and growing west he walked from Philadelphia to Pittsburg and then proceeded by boat to Cincinnati, arriving at that place with only fifty cents in his pocket. He then made his way into the interior of the state and formed the acquaintance of a man who proved to be Mr. Weaver, of Greene county, and a neighbor of David Marshall, an uncle of Mr. Cummings. The latter accompanied Mr. Weaver to Greene county, and after a few days accepted a position as teacher of a school. He taught almost twenty years in Caesarscreek township, in the meantime having purchased a farm of fifty-five acres, of which only ahout two acres had been cleared, while a log cabin constituted the only improvement upon the place, Mr. Cummings continued clearing his land while engaged in teaching. At length he abandoned that profession and by industry and perseverance and capable management became the owner of a very valuable farm, extending its borders from time to time by additional purchases until by the close of the war he was the owner of five hundred acres of valuable land. He gave a part of this to his children, also sold a portion of it, but at the time of his death retained possession of two hundred and forty-two acres. Mr. Cummings was twice married. He first wedded Mary E. Boots, who died on the 1st of October, 1861. She was a descendant of the Peterson family of Caesarscreek township. By that marriage there were eight children: Mary, who died at the age of sixteen years; Joseph B.; Sarah J., the wife of William Conklin, of Xenia; James M., who is a resident of Indiana, and who served in Company A, Second Ohio Light Artillery in the Civil war; Thomas Jefferson, who served in Company E, Second Ohio Heavy Artillery, being on Ship Island during his entire service, and is now deceased; Martha, the wife of Henry C. Long, of Jasper township; and Ada, who died at the age of three years. After the death of his first wife the father was married on the 11th of September, 1862, his second union being with Miss Mary E. McNair, who still survives him and is living with John Cummings. The mother of our subject was a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church, but the father and his second wife belonged to the Reformed church. He served as a justice of the peace and took a very active part in politics, upholding the principles of the Republican party. His death occurred November 22, 1895, at the age of eighty-one years and after almost a half-century's residence in Greene county.
Joseph B. Cummings, whose name introduces this review, obtained bis education in the district schools near his home and remained under the parental roof until twenty years of age, when he enlisted at Dayton, Ohio, September 22, 1861, in response to President Lincoln's call for aid in preserving the Union. He was mustered in on the 28th of the same month as a private of Company E, First Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and participated in the battles of Shiloh, Perryville. Stone River, Liberty Gap, Chickamauga and minor engagements. At Chickamauga on the 19th of September, 1863, he was wounded in both hands and the left lung. The regiment was in the very thickest of the fight, and, having sustained these injuries, Mr. Cummings was sent to the hospital at Chattanooga and afterward to Nashville, Tennessee. In May he was ordered to Washington, D. C, and there was made first sergeant of Company H, Nineteenth Regiment of the Veteran Reserve Corps. He was stationed at Rochester, New York, during the famous draft riots in that state, and in that state was honorably discharged October 15, 1864.
Mr. Cummings at once returned to his home and on the 14th of February, 1865, he was united in marriage to Miss Ann Humston, a daughter of H. G. and Elizabeth (Ford) Humston, both of whom are now deceased. Three children have graced this marriage; MIary, born September 26, 1867, is an instructor in Greek and occupies the chair of modern languages in the Tusculum College, in Tennessee. She was educated in the Xenia Female Seminary and in Antioch College. Ina, born October 9, 1870, is the deceased wife of T. O. Mason, of Xenia, and left one son, Joe. Thomas, born July 26, 1876. married Mamie M. Wise, and they reside with his father. They lost one child, Marie, but have two sons, Donald and Floyd.
Mr. and Mrs. Cummings hold membership in the Reformed church, and he maintains relations with his old army comrades through his membership in Lewis Post, G. A. R. He is also identified with the Union National Legion. In politics he is a very prominent Republican and is recognized as a leader of public thought and action in his district. He was elected township clerk, in which position he served for six years, was land appraiser and for twelve years was justice of the peace. In 1894 he was chosen to represent his district in the state legislature, where he proved an active working member. He served on a number of important committees, including the committees on county affairs, the military, Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphan Home, and of the last named he was chairman. In 1895 he was re-elected and his course was such as reflected credit upon his constituents, for he labored earnestly and indefatigably for the welfare of those whom he represented. His life has been devoted to his family and his friends, his business and to the support of those principles which he believed to be right. His unswerving purpose, his unquestioned fidelity, his unfaltering honesty and his unchanging way have commanded the highest respect of all. He has been a leader in the cause of liberty, of freedom and of progress and his hearty cooperation has ever been given to that which tends to elevate mankind.
From History of Greene County, Ohio, by George F. Robinson (S. J. Clarke Publishing Co, 1902)