Janice Williams

Tombstone Tuesday: Bernard Cunningham

In Gravestones, Photos, Second generation, Tombstone Tuesday, William Henry, World War I on September 30, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Our first 2 tombstones for Tombstone Tuesday were in the cemetery that is nearest and dearest to me as a Cunningham, the Newburg Cemetery. But today we’ll move 30 miles west to a cemetery you may never have been to. It’s the Old I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Hamilton and the grave of Bernard Cunningham.

This is one of the prettiest gravestones I have seen in our family:

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This is the east side of the gravestone. The west side is the side that you’ll see first if you are driving through the cemetery looking for it. It is hard to miss:

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And this is a close-up of the name and dates.

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Now, who is Bernard Cunningham? I have many pictures and stories about Bernard Cunningham. But the shortest version is that he was the son of Tom and Lona Cunningham and Bernard was killed in World War I. Tom, Bernard’s father, was the oldest son of Bill Cunningham of the original 12 Cunningham “kids.” Bill Cunningham raised his family very close to the Mountain Creek Ranch.

Tom married Lona, who was born in Alabama, but lived with her family in Hamilton County. She was 20 and he was 18 when they married. He was the first child in the Bill Cunningham family to marry, though his older sister Mollie wasn’t far behind.

Tom and Lona had their first child, Edna, about a year into their marriage. This was an era when the Cunningham family was still relatively small. Small in terms of where it ended up 100 years later, of course. Betty had quite a few grandchildren by 1890 since she was the first in the family to marry, Aaron had a few, and there were a few others, but I would expect that the birth of a grandchild would still get a little bit of notice in the family. The birth of little Edna prompted the Bill Cunningham family to have another formal family portrait taken.

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That is Tom and Lona on the right and the baby in the picture is little Edna. [If you need a better copy of this picture with full IDs, just write me.]

This whole story has so many sad aspects and the first is that little Edna died before she was 6 years old. I don’t know the cause. She is buried in the Pottsville Cemetery in Hamilton County. Lona was pregnant with Bernard when Edna died. Bernard was born 4 months later in February 1896.

As you can imagine after having gone through a tragedy and losing a child, Bernard was especially dear to Tom and Lona. He was also a much-photographed boy.

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When Bernard was 20, he married Annie Cathey of Hamilton.

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But things get sad here again…  The couple moved to Fort Worth and before they had been married 2 full years, Annie got pneumonia and died. Heartbroken, Bernard moved back home to Hamilton and soon after enlisted in World War I.

To Be Continued…

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