Janice Williams

Tombstone Tuesday: The Leg of J.R. Lewis

In Original 12 Cunninghams, Tombstone Tuesday, Unity Ann Lewis on September 10, 2013 at 12:19 am

There are so many things to write about that don’t get written, so in an effort to put some of my information out here for you, I will attempt to at least write about one of our ancestors or relatives by highlighting their gravestone on Tuesdays.

Of course, it has taken me 30 minutes to CHOOSE which one to put here first! Sure, I wanted to start with the graves of Susannah and James Cunningham, the top of the pyramid. Then I thought, we’ve all been to Newburg over and over, maybe start with a grave you haven’t seen. Finally I have stopped the churning thoughts by starting with…

The Leg of J.R. Lewis.

I’ve talked to many of my Cunningham kin – and others who have visited our Newburg Cemetery – and the grave of the leg of J.R. Lewis is a highlight of a visit. If you were lucky enough to have discovered this unique grave as a kid, it probably stuck with you for years.


I would like to give you THE definitive story of J.R. Lewis’ leg, but I don’t know the story definitively. The story I have heard is that he lost his leg in a wagon accident. Why he chose to have his leg buried in the cemetery, I do not know. You descendants of Unity and J.R…. do you know?

This J.R. Lewis is James Russell Lewis, the husband of James and Susannah Cunningham’s youngest daughter Unity Ann.

J.R. was born in DeKalb County, Alabama, November 28, 1858.  This was the same county that the Cunninghams had moved from about 15 years earlier.  He was almost 20 when he married Unity on November 7, 1878, in Comanche County. She was almost 16.

They lived some of their married life near Priddy where he farmed, but then they lived in Brownwood to give their children better educational opportunities. His death certificate says he was a merchant as well as a farmer.

He and Unity had 4 sons and 2 daughters that lived past infancy. Many of our reunion attendees are their descendants:  Willis, Lockridge, Henson, Whittley, Ellis, Landa, and many more names are “Lewis” up the line.

J.R. died September 22, 1951, in Bangs, Texas.  He had been living there with his son Jim and Jim’s wife Pearl.

I don’t have many pictures of the Lewises. Voncille Whittley was kind enough to give me some group photos of the family. Here are J.R. and Unity at their 50th anniversary party in 1928. Impossible to tell which leg is the one buried in Newburg.



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