John (Jack) Cudahy (1843-1915) was one of the giants of Chicago’s meat packing industry and a millionaire Board of Trade investor. He won the admiration of the business and financial world for two great achievements. Within three years of his arrival in Chicago in the 1870s, he had accumulated over $1 million. When the “Panic of 1809” hit, he found himself $1,524,000 in debt. Joining the Board of Trade, he worked diligently and had paid back the entire amount within five years.
Cudahy was born in Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland, and came to the U.S. in 1849 when his family settled in Milwaukee where they entered the packing business. In 1875 he became a partner of John Plankington (1820-1891) in Milwaukee. The following year he moved to Chicago, where he became a partner in the meat packing firm of Chapin & Co., later called “Chapin & Cudahy” and finally Cudahy Packing Co. His widow, Margaret O’Neil Cudahy, died in 1924 and was survived by her two sons, John R. and Gerald Cudahy.