Janice Williams

Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Texas Cunninghams and Who We Are

In Basic Family Information on June 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm

This blog is going to be my go-to blog for pondering the Cunningham family and sharing the tidbits of information that I find. If you’ve ended up here and wonder if this is YOUR Texas Cunninghams, let me tell you who we are. We are the descendants of James Cunningham and Susannah Tate Cunningham who came to the Republic of Texas from Alabama and initially settled in what is now Morris County in far northeast Texas. They eventually moved on to the Central Texas area around Austin and then, in 1855, found their permanent home in Comanche County, Texas. This settlement was the farthest west settlement of Anglo-Americans and the Cunninghams were at the forefront of many battles against the Comanche Indians.

If you stumble upon this and wonder if you are related, please contact me at radiojanice@gmail.com and I can help you discover if you tie into our family. We have an extensive family tree that is not available anywhere online and I will be happy to check it for you and supply you with information.

Captain James Cunningham (called Captain for his service in the Florida Indian Wars) was also known as Uncle Jimmy in the Comanche community and his hard-working wife was known as Aunt Susie. They raised 12 children in the Newburg community of Comanche County. Their children were:

1. Aaron

2. Elizabeth

3. David Houston

4. Richard Tankersley

5. John Valentine

6. William Henry

7. James Washington

8. Joseph Jackson

9. Thomas Anderson

10. George Washington

11. Mary Jane

12. Unity Ann

Our family has had an annual reunion near the old home place each August since 1889. With over 200 family members on most years and over 600 family members on the occasion of the 100th reunion, it is a family that takes great pride in our heritage.

Where this blog is going?

In Genealogy records, General Musings on June 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Almost every day I am doing some research on the Cunningham family. On the days that I am not doing research on the Cunningham family, I am thinking about the Cunningham family. This in no way means I am an expert on the Cunningham family. I wish I were. But it does make me qualified to post interesting sketches about the oh-so-interesting people that we are related to in this family.

I was thinking last night about the people I am eternally grateful to for their previous research on this family:

Mrs. Howard B. Cox

It was years before I knew that Mrs. Howard B. Cox was anything other than Mrs. Howard B. Cox. But she was born with the name Alma Meadows and her grandmother was “Aunt Betty” of the original 12 Cunningham children, the oldest daughter. Alma married Howard Cox and they lived at Ozona, Texas, at some point in their lives, I believe and died in San Angelo and are buried there. She died there before I was born. My debt to her is for her first amazing effort at documenting the family history. She created a book in about 1927 with the family trees of each of the 12 children and historical information about the original family. Think about how one did research in those days before the Internet or giant genealogical libraries were available! But, by putting it down and having copies printed, that history has stood the test of time and has been the document that has been referred to time and time again. I will write a blog post devoted just to that book at some future time and I am curious how many copies of it now exist? I am lucky enough to own a very dog-eared and tattered copy.

F. Lee Lawrence

I met Lee Lawrence when I began attending the Cunningham Reunion in about 1986 after I had moved to Dallas and could go to the reunion on my own. He quickly got me involved in the planning of the 100th reunion and happily included me in the family. He had done research and study into the Cunningham family for 30 years before I knew what the family was all about and he was the driving force in getting the historical markers placed on Capt. Cunningham’s grave and restoring the original homestead. As I do research today I come across his name in historical journals and find that he had found out so many things I’m finding out now. I feel like I’m on the right track when I come across his name.

Ruth Adele Waggoner

Ruth Adele opened up her home for the planning of that 100th reunion and I began to get to know her then. She has been the secretary of the reunion for many years and her attention to the details of addresses and information is priceless. I know there were secretaries before her — Leona Armentrout used to send us the postcard each year before I knew what it was all about — but it is Ruth Adele that has been so helpful to me in keeping up with the information I am seeking.

Effie Birdwell

Effie was a one-of-a-kind woman and she was an avid researcher and knew so much about the family. She was the driving force, I believe, along with Bill Lawrence to put together the family tree book that came out for the 100th reunion. To update a family after 60 years of not having documentation of the children that were born and the deaths that had occurred was Herculean, but they managed to not only obtain tons of information, they put it together in a beautiful, usable format.

Margaret Waring

Margaret is not a direct descendant of “our” Cunninghams, but she is a cousin to us through the Tate family. She has been the librarian in Comanche for 50 years and if there is an answer that can be found in the Comanche Library, she is the person to turn to. She will steer you to the right documents, make you take good notes with source citations, and will continue to find clues for you long after you leave the library. She has become my good friend over these last 25 years of going to reunions and I appreciate her continued help in all my family research and her enthusiasm for all the projects I involve myself in.

* * *

What I hope to do in the coming weeks and months is to create sketches of individual members of the family. First, the original 12 children and what we know about their lives and then on to other family members and current events as well. While we are working on getting the information to more and more family members now that many have the software and the interest to look into the entire database of information, it is easy to miss the small stories about the Cunningham family member that was accused of murder, or the one that regularly sailed from Havana to New Orleans, or the many law enforcement officers and school teachers that helped settle, tame, and educate Texas. So many stories to tell. I look forward to sharing them with you.