Profile in Courage

One cold January day in 1888, John J. Cummings walked nine miles in a blinding blizzard to buy medicine for his ailing one-year-old daughter, then, walked back home. His beard and clothing caked with ice, Cummings found his way by following railroad tracks that ran past his Blunt, South Dakota, farm. Happily, the child recovered.

Over 111 years later, Cummings’ heroics were remembered during a family reunion at Milwaukee’s Irish Fest, the world’s largest festival celebrating all things Irish. Cummings’ father, Hugh, immigrated from County Waterford, Ireland in 1849 and settled in southwestern Wisconsin. Photos of John and his daughter, with a 1950 newspaper article describing his snowy ordeal, were among displays featured at the reunion.

I heard the story through the years,” said Joan Cummings about her great uncle’s courage. “It’s a very touching story.”