A Pioneer and Entrepreneur
John Cussons, the son of John and Elizabeth (Jackson) Cussons, was born in Hornscastle, Lincolnshire, England in 1838. His adventurous spirit led him to America in 1855 and he spent four years in the Northwest living with the Sioux Indians.
In 1859, he moved to Selma, Alabama and became half owner of the "Morning Reporter." When the Civil War started, he joined the Confederate army and served as a scout. He was quickly promoted to lieutenant. After a handful of victories, the Yankees captured him on the third day of Gettysburg. They detained him for eight months in prisons at Fort McHenry, Fort Delaware, Johnson's Island and Point Lookout. The North released him and he served out West until the close of the war.
In 1862, Confederate Colonel Belo challenged John Cussons to a duel for giving orders to his regiment without authority. The men agreed to use "Mississippi Rifles" and met for the first time in a field accompanied by their friends. They shot two rounds without satisfaction and they proceeded to reload their rifles. Their friends called for a truce and the event was over. Colonel Belo received a shot to his shoulder. John Cussons was not injured.
After the Civil War, Cussons returned to Glen Allen. He married Susan Sheppard Allen in 1864. Susan Allen was the widow of Benjamin Allen after whom Glen Allen was named. She was also the sister of Dr. John Sheppard of Meadow Farm, a residence still standing along Mountain Road.
Cussons started a lucrative printing company in 1868. He patented a calendar and popularized the practice of using it as an advertising medium. He is attributed with inventing the flip-top desk and perpetual calendars. His company, "Cussons, May and Company" sold druggist labels and calendars throughout the United States, Canada and Great Britain.
Toward the end of his life, Cussons, a successful soldier, explorer, historical writer, and landowner, became more reclusive. The six feet three inches tall Cussons, called "Wau-zee-hos-ka" which meant ?the tall pine tree' by the Sioux, died in 1912. He is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in the Oregon Hill section of Richmond.