Janice Williams

Iva Christian

In David Houston Cunningham, General Musings, Second Generation Stories on August 14, 2011 at 5:53 am

There are so many stories in the Cunningham family. So many stories that might never get written down.

Last night at the reunion I stumbled up against one of those stories and I thought I would put it down before I forget . . . even though there are many details missing.

This is what I would like to include in this blog as much as the “big” stories of Indian fights and survival on the frontier of Texas.

Visiting with Virginia Wood last night, one of my favorite people to see each August, we were discussing which members of her branch of the Dave Cunningham family she manages to keep up with. She was naming names and discussing how long it had been since she had seen or heard from some of them. I opened up the computer program where all of this information is kept and was looking at the names of some of Dave’s children and their children. I happened upon Iva Christian (born March 20, 1890, daughter of Dave’s oldest daughter Mary Texana Cunningham and Daniel Webster Christian). I saw that we (as in “we” the family and our record) had no death date for her, but it noted that she died in England. That certainly seemed odd and out of place for this family, so I asked.

“Oh, yes, she died in England,” said Virginia. She went on to tell how Iva went on a cruise and met a man and fell in love. He was from England so she went to live with him in England. Checking our info, that must have been Fred Sintzel, who was 5 years older than Iva. They married in 1911.

Consider that for a moment… A member of our family on a cruise in that era and before she was even 21 years old. She meets a dashing 24-year-old on the cruise and comes home to tell her pioneering, Texas family that she is moving to England.

Of course, I’m jumping to all sorts of conclusions. She might not have come home, maybe she eloped and stayed with him. I have no idea of those details and that makes me even more curious.

But the story got even better. Virginia said her husband, dashing Fred, died at some point in their marriage. But Iva now was well established in England and married a member of the elite of England, a duke or a lord or earl or someone of that nature. But that husband died at some point, too, and she married even higher in the royal family.

Virginia said Iva never had any children, but she did send money back to the U.S. to family members. She may have done this as a safeguard (Virginia was saying) because all of her husband’s wealth belonged to the State rather than to him individually.

Lots of questions pop into my head about Iva…  What was her life like in England? How did she move into those royal circles? How beautiful and charming must she have been? Did she regale the royals with tales of her Indian fighting family back in Texas and play off of her heritage or was that left behind with her parents? We probably will never have the answer to those questions, but I’m glad we’ve got the beginnings of the story.

  1. Keep Virginia on your source list. She has a lot of entertaining and valuable stories to share. Thanks for this one that I have never heard.

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