Patrick Cudahy was born on on St. Patrick's Day in Ireland in 1849. His family immigrated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when Patrick was just a few months old. As a young man, he worked in meat packing houses. In 1874 at the age of 25, Cudahy became the Superintendent of Milwaukee's largest meat packing plant and through his entrepreneurship and work ethic, his business expanded nationally. He met Anna Madden Cudahy and married her after a year of courtship. The couple eventually had 9 children. In 1892, Cudahy bought a 700 acre parcel of land just south of Milwaukee which eventually became the town of Cudahy, Wisconsin.
Patrick's humble history as an immigrant along with his Catholic faith instilled in him a sense of social responsibility. On November 16, 1915, Patrick Cudahy presented a $25,000 check to the Wisconsin Trust Company with the following instructions: “It is my wish that the income from the said $25,000 be paid in equal portions to Associated Charities, Little Sisters of the Poor, St. Rose’s Catholic Orphan Asylum and St. Vincent’s Catholic Infant Asylum…I wish to apologize for expressing a wish as to what disposition is to be made of the proceeds, as I believe that charity should be as broad as the ocean, yet I am familiar with the workings of those four institutions, and know them to be well and economically managed. I also know them to be deserving, and I think they are somewhat neglected by the general public.” He was certainly a pioneer in the field of philanthropy.
Patrick Cudahy and Anna Madden Cudahy in 1869
Cudahy Meat Packing Plant 1887
In 1917, Cudahy made an additional $50,000 gift to the Milwaukee Foundation. His contributions were the principal asset in the Milwaukee Foundation, and its only public fund, for the next 17 years.
In 1921, Articles of Association were drawn for the purpose of creating the Alice Dickson Cudahy Clinic which would provide free of charge to all dependent members of any family of an employee of the Cudahy Brothers Company any needed medical attention and education in matters relating to child welfare, social hygiene and domestic science.
The operation of the Clinic commenced August 1, 1923, with a contribution of money by Michael F. Cudahy in the amount of $19,290.77.
The name of the Association was changed on August 22, 1935, to The Michael F. Cudahy Fund when the Articles were also amended to broaden the scope of its philanthropy. In addition to its original purposes the Fund included among its scope of activities a more general assistance in the relief of poverty and care of the sick by giving financial support to appropriate organizations engaged in philanthropic work. Other objectives were the physical, intellectual, spiritual and social welfare of children; care of the aged and the sick; promotion of education and scientific research of religion and other social, benevolent and humanitarian works.
On September 29, 1943, at the suggestion of Michael F. Cudahy, the name of the Fund was changed to Patrick and Anna M. Cudahy Fund to honor the memory of his parents.
On February 17, 1949, the Associates of the Patrick and Anna M. Cudahy Fund voted that the Fund be incorporated under the laws of Wisconsin, to continue and carry on the objectives of the Association as presently organized and operated and that one or more of the Associates be authorized to join with others in making and filing the Articles of Incorporation and in perfecting the organization of such corporation.
Since the incorporation of the Patrick and Anna M. Cudahy Fund this foundation has continued its philanthropic work on an ever increasingly large scale, both in funds available and in the continuation of numerous charitable and educational endeavors.
Cudahy Family Library 1966
Cudahy Family Library Today