Janice Williams

Tombstone Tuesday

In Elizabeth Holmsley, T.J. Holmsley, Tombstone Tuesday on September 15, 2014 at 10:54 pm

I have begun a project where I’m researching the grandchildren of James and Susannah Cunningham more in depth. I began with the first grandchild, Mary Susannah Holmsley, the first child of Betty and T.J. Holmsley. But we’ll start with the end of her life and her gravestone in the Fairmount Cemetery in San Angelo.

Thank you to Steve Voss who has taken so many wonderful photos of our family gravestones in this cemetery for Findagrave.

While we think of the separate generations of the Cunningham family with the 12 “aunts” and “uncles” we refer to and then the 100 or so grandchildren, it is hard to remember that the generations are all muddled. George Washington Cunningham, the youngest boy in the family, was just a baby when Mary, the first grandchild, was born. And Mary was older than her own Aunt Mary Jane and Aunt Unity. So while it is easy to picture Susannah Cunningham being the doting grandmother, she was still the mother of babies and small children and certainly didn’t get to play the role of grandmother that most do today.

Mary Susannah Holmsley was born to the Cunningham’s oldest daughter Betty who was the first in the county to marry. Mary was born August 30, 1858. There is no clear indication of where she was born, but it looks like they were still living in Comanche County and she was possibly born in the old homestead.

The family moved soon after to Uvalde County, Texas, and continued their pioneering ways, still encountering Indian raids. Mary met Monroe Bell Pulliam who had been born in Collin County, Texas (north of Dallas), but he was in Uvalde as a small boy. Two of his brothers were killed by Indians and Monroe himself was wounded in an Indian raid when he was just 14.

Mary married Monroe Pulliam in 1874. She was the grandchild of the Cunninghams, but she married before 5 of her aunts and uncles did. The couple married in Uvalde when he was 22 and she was 15.

Soon after they married, they traveled north with a head of 1000 cattle. They stopped where the Spring Creek converged with the Concho River and built an adobe house about 20 miles west of Fort Concho. Mary was pregnant during the move and had their first child, a daughter in November. In that first winter the Indians stole all of their saddle horses and they went through a very hard time.

The next year, Monroe drove 600 cattle to Kansas City. Mary may have been left at home with her little girl to mind the ranch.

Three more children were born to the family and in 1887 they moved to San Angelo, built a beautiful home, and Pulliam was the president of the old San Angelo National Bank. In 1905 he became the director of the First National Bank and had an office there for 30 years.

All of the Pulliam children were grown and Mary Susannah was just a few weeks shy of 55 when she died in San Angelo in 1913. She died from complications from a surgery. It was only a week before the big annual Cunningham Reunion that was already important to family members. She had planned to be there. We can only imagine how sad family members were at the reunion to have lost their first niece and cousin.


(Not the best picture.)

Monroe Bell Pulliam, who had been called “Nub” his whole life, remarried after a few years and lived with his second wife for 20 years until his death in 1937. He is buried next to Mary in the Pulliam plot at the Fairmount Cemetery.


  1. Janice, you have made history come alive! Thank you so much for this!

  2. Keep up your research and writing, Janice. This is so interesting. Isn’t it amazing how much of the Cunningham history has been preserved already and continues to be brought alive with stories like this?

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