Janice Williams

Archive for August, 2015|Monthly archive page

Tombstone Tuesday: J.M.C.

In Gravestones, RIchard Tankersley Cunningham, Second Generation Stories, Tombstone Tuesday on August 25, 2015 at 1:59 am

Tuesday has come again and we find ourselves once more in the Newburg Cemetery.

DCF 1.0

This is the grave of James Mitchell Cunningham. It is near the “center” of the cemetery, near the graves of Captain James and Susannah Cunningham. James was their grandson.

But his grave was in the cemetery before their graves were. Sadly, he was just 17 when he died.

James was the first son of Richard and Louella Cunningham—Uncle Dick and Aunt Lou to most people in the family and the community. I believe he was the seventh grandchild in the Cunningham family, with Betty, Aaron, and John already having children. James was born March 20, 1866, less than a year after the last shot was fired in the Civil War and while Texas was under the Reconstruction government. He was likely named after his grandfather.

James died just before his 18th birthday on January 17, 1884.

Aaron and Dave had each lost a wife in the years before James died. Both are buried in the Albin Cemetery. Aaron and Minerva had 3 babies die and they are all buried in the Albin Cemetery. Betty’s daughter Zimarou had died in 1880 in childbirth. She also was only 18 when she died. She and the baby are buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Comanche. I believe James Mitchell Cunningham is the very first member of our Cunningham family to be buried in the Newburg Cemetery.

Imagine how the cemetery looked then with so few graves. And imagine Dick and Lou, their brothers and sisters and in-laws, James and Susannah, and probably every neighbor in the community there for the funeral (assuming there was a funeral).

I do not know the cause of James Mitchell Cunningham’s death. Maybe someone in the Richard family does and can inform me. The earliest photo I have of the Richard Cunningham family is from 1890 with their other 10 children that were born after James.


Back to Newburg

In David Houston Cunningham, Newburg Cemetery, Tombstone Tuesday on August 18, 2015 at 1:40 am

As promised, we are back at the Newburg Cemetery once again. Last week on our Tombstone Tuesday we investigated two of the first graves you see in the cemetery when you walk in. Allan and Annie Cunningham and their son Ira have the 4th and 5th headstones on the left in the new section. I let you know that Allan Cunningham descends from Comanche County’s OTHER Cunninghams, so he is not directly related to us. But he does have his connections…

Directly beside Allan Cunningham is the Bumpas headstone. It is third headstone on that side.


This is the front, visible from the drive/walkway. The back has this:


Mary Bumpas and Allan Cunningham are brother and sister. She was born Mary Jane Cunningham (but from the OTHER Cunninghams, remember) and she married James Henry Bumpas.

To make this really confusing, but to get to OUR Cunningham connection… James Henry Bumpas is the grandson of Dave Cunningham of the original 12 children of the Cunningham family. He is a full-fledged Cunningham from OUR family.

Here’s young David Houston Cunningham:


I do not have any pictures of the Bumpases (or maybe I do, I just don’t know that they are in my group shots).

Immediately south of the Jim and Mary Bumpas is the Taber graves:


Mary E. Taber was born Mary Elizabeth Bumpas, called “Libby,” and she is the daughter of Jim and Mary. She married Miner Frederick Taber in the early ‘40s and he served in the U.S. Navy all through World War II and beyond and she lived in Comanche near her mother and dad and raised her children on her own.



And then one more grave to the south, the first grave you see on the left in the Newburg Cemetery, it the grave of John and Patsy Pylant. Patsy was born Patsy Bumpas and she is also the daughter of Jim and Mary Bumpas and the sister of Libby Taber.


There was one more sister in the Bumpas household. She is Elva Eugenia Bumpas and she married Leonard Carl Griffin, Sr. Like her sister Libby, she guarded the homefront while her husband served in the U.S. Navy. Their family has continued the Navy tradition and we will save their stories of 4 generations of Navy officers and a great grandson that, I believe, graduated from the Naval Academy last year.  Elva and her husband are buried in Brownwood.

Next time you are entering the Newburg Cemetery, especially if you are acquainting someone with this beautiful resting place, you can confidently look to the left and say, “She is my cousin, she is my cousin, this is their dad and he is my cousin, and his wife was part of the OTHER Cunninghams and this is her brother, sister-in-law, and nephew.”

The descendants of this family: the Tabers, the Griffins, the Millers, the Autreys, and probably more I am missing are all occasional attendees of the reunion, so this history doesn’t seem so far back when you realize these are the parents and grandparents of your “friends/cousins.”

Tombstone Tuesday

In Newburg Cemetery, The OTHER Cunninghams, Tombstone Tuesday on August 11, 2015 at 1:15 am

Another amazing Cunningham Family Reunion has come and gone. I will soon post some pictures and try to describe it for those of you that were not there. In the meantime, I just want to get back on this horse and blog! Thank you Randy Walton for the encouragement to continue the Tombstone Tuesday. So this will ease me back in.

I visited the Newburg Cemetery on Sunday, as many of you did. Every time I have ever walked into the cemetery, I’ve seen the Cunninghams immediately to my left in the new section of the cemetery. I’ve always wondered if they were “our” Cunninghams.

Anyone who has done research on the Comanche County Cunninghams knows there are 2 groups of Cunninghams. Most of them are buried in the Newburg Cemetery and there has been marrying between the 2 groups (Edrie Cunningham from “our” group married Albert Cunningham of “their” group). This year I took pictures of the two Cunningham gravestones immediately to the left and swore I’d go home and research it a little.

I have some trepidation when I write some of these stories because I know so many people in Comanche County know more about these folks than I do. I get my knowledge from the Internet, they grew up with the stories. So I welcome their thoughts and corrections in the comments or by email, but I will tell you what I know.

The fifth grave on the left, right by the drive into the cemetery, is the single headstone of Ira G. Cunningham.


As you can see, he was 45 years old and had been in the military.

Spoiler:  he isn’t one of “our” Cunninghams. His name is Ira George Cunningham and he was born May 1, 1915, in Texas (and I would presume in Comanche County). His parents were Allen Cunningham and Annie Belle Talley. Their grave is the third one on the path as you enter the cemetery.


Allen’s father was Jesse Hammock Cunningham and Jesse’s father was the OTHER George Washington Cunningham (we had one, too).

Ira and his family lived in Brady when he was a teenager and his father ran a lumber yard. He had an older sister and a younger sister.  He enlisted for the air corps in San Antonio December 20, 1945 when he was 30. This was the only enlistment I found. I wonder if there was an earlier one and he was in World War II from the start? The served in the Medical Administrative Corps as an officer, and enlisted to serve in Hawaii, according to the documents. He never married and died of a heart attack on November 5, 1960, at his home in Comanche, where he was retired.

That is all I know about Ira Cunningham. I’m sure there are people in Comanche that remember him and will maybe fill in some details.

Now that I’ve said that he was not one of OUR Cunninghams, I will tell you that his aunt WAS one of our Cunninghams. And I’ll tell that story next week.