Janice Williams

Archive for October, 2016|Monthly archive page

Tombstone Tuesday: Mary Jane Neely

In Abilene, Gravestones, Mary Jane Neely, Obituary, Original 12 Cunninghams, Tombstone Tuesday on October 25, 2016 at 11:00 am

This gravestone picture is from Findagrave.com, thank you Russ Davies for taking the picture.


Mary Jane Cunningham was born in 1860, the second to the last child of Captain James and Susanna Cunningham. Her brother Aaron, the oldest child, was 24 when she was born. Her older sister Betty was already married and had a child.

At 15, she married Joe Neely and had 9 children that lived past infancy and 4 who died very young. Joe died when he was 62 and they were living in Hamlin, in Jones County, Texas.

Mary Jane lived her final days in the household of her daughter Mary Stephens in Abilene. She died just before she turned 79, 21 years after Joe.

Both were taken back to the Oakwood Cemetery in Comanche to be buried. T.J. and Betty Holmsley and many other family members of the next generation had already been buried in Oakwood by the time she died.



Tombstone Tuesday: Poor Little Boys

In Dave Cunningham, Tombstone Tuesday on October 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm

I noticed the gravestone in the Albin Cemetery of two boys that died on the same day long before I knew what happened to them.

Marshall & Durward Cunningham

(Sorry for the poor picture on a too-sunny day. This is a photo I took. There is a better picture on findagrave.com.)

Finally, a few years ago at the reunion, I remembered to ask and Mary Shannon (Taber) Autrey told me of the poor boys that drown. Mary Shannon is from the Dave family, as are the boys.

Seven-year-old Marshal and just-turned-six-year-old Durward were playing in a swollen creek after flooding rains and were swept away and drowned. The sad story made it to papers across the state.


This article was on the front page of the Houston Post on May 19, 1908. In the weather column of the same page, it reports the Trinity River still at flood stage and the Colorado, Brazos, and Trinity all rising in their middle and lower portions.

The next day, the boys’ deaths were again on the front page of the Houston Post with an additional bit of detail (but I wonder how such a detail could be provided except through speculation).


The Palestine Daily Register also had the story of the flooding rivers and the deaths of the boys on its front page on May 19, 1908.


Durward and Marshal were the sons of G. Jay and Lizzie Cunningham (maiden name Martha Elizabeth Hamilton). Jay was one of Dave Cunningham’s six children, the older of Dave’s two sons. He was just 35 when the boys died and Lizzie was 31. The only other child the couple had was only 3 years old. Reba Cunningham grew up and married Randle Burton. They had no children. They were well known in the Newburg Community.

Tombstone Tuesday: Marylou “Sal” Hall

In Elizabeth Holmsley, Gravestones, San Angelo, T.J. Holmsley, Tombstone Tuesday on October 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm

The hardest part about writing on a Tombstone Tuesday is that I want to know everything I can about the subject and that is next to impossible for these long dead, distant relatives.

I’m sure many of our family, though, knew Marylou “Sal” Hall since she only died 40 years ago or so. She and Willis Johnson, still a regular attendee at the family reunion each August, were first cousins. I’m sure Willis could tell me more.

But Sal is the subject today because of a treasure trove of family information I was lucky enough to “inherit.” Some beautiful pictures of family members are in this trove and I want to share them all with you. I’ll start with sweet Sal… an absolutely beautiful girl.


She lived her life in San Angelo. I wonder if they traveled to Dallas to find a hat and beautiful outfit like this?

Sal was born October 17, 1923, in San Angelo. Her mother was Mary Elizabeth Johnson Hall, the granddaughter of our “Aunt Betty,” (Elizabeth Cunningham Holmsley). Her father was Frank Vosburg Hall. He was known by his middle name Vosburg. He was a native Texan, also from a pioneering family, but he went to Cornell University in Ithaca, studying agriculture, before being involved in business at a gin in San Angelo and a rancher in Irion County.

Sal’s parents had a son before Sal was born:  Frank Vosburg Hall, Jr., but he died at only 5 days old, so Sal was raised as the only child.

I find a couple of references in newspapers where Sal visited friends in Bryan, Texas, but little else about her life in San Angelo. She died August 14, 1977, of breast cancer at the age of 53.

The site FindaGrave.com has a memorial for Sal that has a nice picture showing where her brother and family are buried around her and her gravestone. Findagrave contributor Steve Voss took this picture and many others in the Fairmount Cemetery where so many of our family members are buried. Thank you, Steve.

HALL_Marylou Sal

If you know more of Sal’s life or have a picture of her as an adult, I hope you will share.

Tombstone Tuesday: Thomas J. Cunningham

In Aaron, Gravestones, Second generation, Tombstone Tuesday on October 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm


It’s high time I unearth this blog and relay some information a before it gets lost by time. Last week I “inherited” a car load of Cunningham and Holmsley information. Two huge boxes of papers and letters and notes and genealogies along with photos, big and small. Even 4 pages of the Comanche Chief from 1903 under glass and framed. Yes, I want to share it all with you.

But, because my attention deficit disorder is telling me I need to show you everything, I’m trying to tame it down to something simple. Something that didn’t even arrive in those big boxes. This is just a tidbit to get me back in the habit.

Thomas J. Cunningham was the ninth child of Aaron Cunningham and his wife Minerva. Aaron was married twice and Minerva was his first wife. Tom was the ninth child, but only the sixth that lived beyond age 2. He was born when his grandparents, Capt. James and Susannah, were still in their mid-60s.

Tom’s mother, Minerva, died when he was just 21 months old. He had 5 older brothers and sisters, from “Susa” at 19 and just married, down to 4-year-old Bertie.

Amanda Jane Henson became a widow when she was just 28. She had two small children and was pregnant with a third. She married again at age 31 to 48-year-old widower, Aaron Cunningham. He had 6 children, 5 still at home. She had 3. Together they had 5 more. A couple of his children were in their teens, but all in all, Amanda cooked for and raised 14 children in their yours, mine, and ours household.

So little Tom Cunningham grew up with Amanda Jane Cunningham as his mother. Most everything I know about him is from his obituary in the Comanche Chief June 23, 1939.


Tom had three children who are all deceased now. While some of his descendants are still on our Cunningham mailing list, I don’t think any have been to the reunion in many years. The name Tom has been carried on for three more generations, not as Jr., III, and IV, but as Thomas Rogers Cunningham (after Tom’s wife Catherine Rogers’ family), Thomas Cunningham (with no middle name), and Thomas Ryan Cunningham.

Thanks to GenLady from findagrave.com for the photo of Tom Cunningham’s grave in the Oakwood Cemetery in Comanche.