J. W. CUYKENDALL, ATLANTIC.
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If he who makes two blades of grass grow on a spot of ground upon which but one grew before, is to be regarded as a benefactor to mankind, how much more of public esteem and grateful recollection does he deserve who introduces, or amplifies, a new industry, whereby increased employment is given to the toilers in the community and the comforts of life are multiplied and improved for all its people, while the products of its soil are prevented from going to the toilers in the community and the comforts of life are multiplied and improved for all its people, while the products of its soil are prevented from going to waste and are conserved for the enjoyment and sustenance of all. True, it cannot be said that J. W. Cuykendall was the creator, or even the introducer, of the canning industry to Iowa, but he was the first practical canner with a thorough knowledge of the business gained in Eastern, up-to-date factories, to engage in it in this part of the country, and by that fact was able to greatly expand the business, increase the features and augment the usefulness of the canning factory in Atlantic, of which he is now the head as the senior member of the firm controlling it.
J. W. Cuykendall was born in Cayuga county, N. Y., on April 6, 1858, his parents, Elias C. and Caroline M. (Rosa) Cuykendall, also being natives of that State. The father followed farming for many years until increasing age induced him to retire from active pursuits, and he and his wife are now living in the enjoyment of a well earned rest at Fishkill, in their native State. Their offspring numbered three sons and one daughter, of whom two of the sons are resident in the West. The paternal grandfather, Jacob Cuykendall, was of Holland Dutch ancestry, and was born in Pennsylvania. He was a pioneer in central New York, where he passed the greater part of his mature life as a farmer and died at a good old age. His grandson, of this sketch, passed his boyhood and youth in Delaware and obtained his scholastic training in the common schools. He also spent two years in the law department of Degarmo Institute in New York.
In 1878 Mr. Cuykendall entered a fruit drying factory in Delaware, being the second man in that State to engage in the business, and, a little later, one of the first to add a canning department to his establishment and enter largely into the business of canning fruits and vegetables. The industry was in its infancy then, and all its facilities and appliances were primitive. But Mr. Cuykendall had a keen scent for improvements, and gave all his mental faculties severely to his business, so that he not only kept up with the rapid advancement in the industry, but helped to lead the pace. When he started in the business all the work was done by hand, but the leaps and bounds with which the market for canned goods expanded, soon made increased facilities necessary, and inventive genius found a new and profitable field for its operations. Machinery adapted to the various needs of the work followed with such speed, that sometimes a new device had scarcely been fully approved before it was discarded for something better and with greater capacity.
In 1880 Mr. Cuykendall came to Atlantic and took a working interest in the factory with which he is now connected, and held this until he and Mr. McWaid became sole owners of the plant and business. His practical knowledge has been turned to good account not only in building up this enterprise and improving the quality and volume of its output, but in helping to sustain other institutions in the community and augment their usefulness. He is vice-president of the Iowa Trust & Savings Bank and the Cedar Rapids Life Insurance Company, and president of the Democrat Publishing Company. He is an ardent Democrat in politics, and as such has served on the School Board. In fraternal relations he is connected with the Order of Elks, and his church affiliation is with the Presbyterians. In 1887 he was married in Delaware to Sarah Davis, a native of that State. They have one child, their daughter Virginia D. The parents are among the social lights of the city, and are held in high regard by hosts of the people.
From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pg. 308-309.