Janice Williams

Tombstone Tuesday: George’s Wife Eliza

In George Washington Cunningham, Gravestones, Original 12 Cunninghams, Tombstone Tuesday on September 24, 2013 at 12:50 am

I have discovered I can’t take a straight picture for the life of me. Thank goodness editing software now let’s me straighten all these crooked photos. But this is one photo where I am quite certain it is the tombstone that is crooked, not just me and my camera:


This is the grave of Eliza Cunningham in the Newburg Cemetery. If you are getting your bearings, this photo was taken facing to the east and you see the grave of William (Bill) Cunningham back there with the flag and the Texas Ranger cross. Capt. James and Susannah are just to the right of that, out of the picture frame.

Eliza Cunningham was the wife of the youngest son in the family, George Washington Cunningham. They married on July 4, 1878, when he was 20 and she was 18. She was also a native of the Newburg Community so they had probably grown up around one another and she likely was friends with Mary Jane and Unity.

George and Eliza settled near Priddy before it was Mills County and farmed. When Mills County was formed, he became the first sheriff, in 1887 at just 29 years old, following in his brothers’ and brother-in-law’s footsteps as a sheriff.

By the time he became sheriff, Eliza had had 3 children. In his role as sheriff, the family moved into the downstairs of the jail on the Goldthwaite courthouse square.

She may have been pregnant with their youngest child, Dave, when they were moving into the jail and getting settled. But there was no rest for Eliza. Part of her job as the sheriff’s wife was to prepare meals and feed prisoners in the jail, too.

Sadly, when she was only 30 years old and her children were all under 11, the youngest, Dave, only 2, Eliza died and was buried at the Newburg Cemetery. Both Capt. James and Susannah were still alive, as were all the 11 brothers and sisters of the Cunningham family, so you would assume they would have all been by this grave for her service in late August 1890.

Interestingly, Aaron, Dave, and Joe had all lost their wives before Eliza died, but each of their wives are buried in the Albin Cemetery. Richard and Luticia had buried their 18-year-old firstborn son in Newburg, but the cemetery didn’t have the large number of family plots we associate with it now.

Now, of course, Eliza is surrounded by a great number of our Cunningham relatives.

George married Kate Danley McCall a year later and took in her son Will McCall. Together they had 4 children. They moved to San Angelo and he became the chief of police there and they and many of their children are buried there. Kate McCall was not a widow, but I will save that story until I know more about it.


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