Recalling the Colorful History of a Newark VFW Post Established in 1907

by Nat Bodian


At the end of World War II, the City of Newark had 27 veterans organizations. The first and oldest was Cushing Post No. 14 of the VFW, or Veterans of Foreign Wars, whose founders had fought in the Spanish American War in Cuba.

Cushing Post occupied its own post home at 96 Wright Street, a building it purchased and occupied in 1922.

I joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars while still serving overseas in World War II. I was made a "MAL" member, or member at large. Subsequently, my VFW membership was assigned to Cushing Post No. 14, which was the closest VFW post to my home at 29 Montgomery Street in Newark's old Third Ward.

When I returned from the War, I became very active in Cushing Post and in the course of my post activity became the post historian and compiled and wrote the official post history.

It was a thrill to dig into the post's colorful history because, although it was then late 1945, among its active members was on of its founding members, Bowen Nowell, and he, in turn, put me in touch with the post's organizer and first commander, Joseph Finberg, then retired and living in Hollywood, California.

From interviews with Nowell and Finberg, and other longtime post members, and search of old post records and correspondence, we published and circulated the "First Official History of Charles Cushing Post No. 14, Incorporated, Veterans of Foreign Wars."

Following are some highlights from that Cushing Post No. 14 history:

  • The first meeting of what would become Cushing Post took place in 1907 in a meeting room over a Market Street tavern near Newark's Four Corners.

  • The post organizer was a Newark grocer named Joseph Finberg, who did business at 71 James Street.

  • The founding members were all veterans of the Spanish American War who had fought in Cuba.

  • The formal charter of the organization, then called the VFW, of Veterans of Foreign Service, was dated March 9, 1908

  • The Post was named Cushing Post after a soldier named Charles Cushing, in Finberg's Regiment, the 71st Regiment, who had been killed in Cuba and was later reburied in a cemetery in New York City.

  • Cushing Post remained the 'mother post' of all of New Jersey's VFS units. When a statewide meeting was held in 1910 to form a State Department of VFS in the Newark City Hall Chambers, the first State Department Commander was Robert Woodside, a charter member of Cushing Post.

  • In 1913, at a national meeting of the then 60-post VFS in Ohio, the VFS, after much dissention, voted to amalgamate with two other veterans groups to become the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

  • Bowen Nowell of Cushing Post had been elected National Commander of VFS just prior to the name change to VFW, and when the VFS was blended into the VFW, all titles held by VFS officers were ruled as titles held in the VFW. Thus, one of the earliest national VFW commanders was a Newarker from Cushing Post.

  • Cushing Post No. 14 was a leading member of the new national VFW organization, and the growth of the VFW in New Jersey was largely done by organizers who were members of Cushing Post.

  • With the end of World War 2, Newark's Cushing Post No. 14 was one of more than 5,000 posts nationally. In mid-2002, the highest numbered VFW post was 11,576. Cushing Post No. 14 remains the 13th active VFW post in existance (Post No. 8 is defunct).

First Official History Chas. Cushing Post No. 14
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