Janice Williams

Archive for November, 2016|Monthly archive page

Tombstone Tuesday: Carrie Belle Cunningham Vaughan

In Gravestones, Second Generation Stories, Thomas Anderson, Tombstone Tuesday on November 29, 2016 at 12:21 am

One of these days I may take on the task of finding out which of the Cunningham grandchildren has the most descendants that we are still in touch with. It very well could be Carrie Belle Cunningham, the daughter of Tom Cunningham. I have received lots of updates of family information from the Vaughan, Atchley, Johnson, and Presley family members.

Tom and Lou Cunningham had 10 children. One son died before turning one year old, but the other 9 children all lived to be adults. Carrie Belle was the third daughter/third child in the family. She was born December 6, 1887, near Newburg.


Tom and Lou with their 5 girls. Carrie Belle is the middle one—in age and in this photo. (Thank you Sherry Perkins for this amazing photo)

Three days before her eighteenth birthday, Carrie Belle married Nathan Wesley “Bud” Vaughan, who was almost 19. He had been born in Admiral, Texas, near Baird in Callahan County, about 50 miles northwest of Newburg.

As they began their family, they lived in various places around Comanche County. Thomas Franklin Vaughan was born in 1906 in Sydney, in 1914 Maggie Winona was born in Gustine. David Wesley in 1910 and Susie Bell in 1912 and Essie Alleen in 1916 are recorded in Comanche County only (in my records). But by the time their youngest, Lois Mae, was born in February of 1921, they lived in Scurry County. Lois Mae’s birth is recorded as Fluvanna (west of Snyder), but they probably lived between there and the town of Arah, 7 miles away. Nathan Wesley Vaughan listed his residence as Arah when he registered for the draft in 1918 for World War I.

In 1930, the family was living in Bailey, Texas, which is northeast of Dallas in Fannin County… a big change from their Central and West Texas roots. But by 1933, Bud and Carrie and their oldest son Thomas and his wife Jewell had moved to Catron County, New Mexico, on the far southwest side in the Gila National Forest. Both of the men are listed as laborers on a road project, one of the earliest efforts of the Works Progress Administration under FDR.


From a larger photo of the family, here is Carrie Belle and Bud and their first son Thomas (sometime in 1907 probably).







I hope the Vaughan family descendants who grew up knowing Carrie Belle can tell me more about their lives in the new states of New Mexico and Arizona. They ended their days in Yuma, Arizona, right in the corner by California and Mexico. Nathan Wesley Vaughan died in 1960 and Carrie Belle in 1972. Here is her headstone in the Desert Lawn Memorial Park in Yuma.


Thanks to Chuck O Fortune, findagrave volunteer, for the photo of her grave.

Some of the members of the Vaughan family have made their way back to Texas, but it looks like most of them are still in Arizona, California, and Nevada, but many have come back “home” for the reunion in August over the years.


Tombstone Tuesday: Zimarou Holmsley Isaacs

In Elizabeth Holmsley, Gravestones, Oakwood Cemetery, Obituary, T.J. Holmsley, Tombstone Tuesday on November 22, 2016 at 10:55 am

“Zimarou” is one of those Cunningham family names that we all notice in the family books. At the last family reunion, Beth Fairbrother and I were talking to Kevin Braziel about his new granddaughter on the way. What will her name be? We asked and then we both said, “Zimarou!” thinking that would be a great family name to pass along. Sadly, his son did not pass it along.

It would have been a very good name to pass along in the Braziel family because Kevin’s grandmother was Zimarou Cunningham Braziel and she was the daughter of Tom Cunningham (of the original 12 children).

But this is the story of a Zimarou that preceded her. In fact, I believe that Zimarou Cunningham was named in memory of Zimarou Holmsley Isaacs.


I was curious if Zimarou was the name of someone in the Bible or someone famous or a common name at the time of the Civil War. But Google “Zimarou” and almost all of the articles are about Zimarous that are in our family, so it is not a common name at all.

I found a bit of evidence that a member of the Holmsley family married a woman named Zimarou before any of the Holmsleys ever came to Texas. I didn’t investigate further, but perhaps she was a favorite aunt of T.J. Holmsley and he wanted to honor her.

Whatever the reason, Betty (Cunningham) Holmsley and T.J. Holmsley named their second daughter Zimarou (with no middle name). She was born May 3, 1862, in the Confederate State of Texas. Betty was 23 and T.J. was 28 and they had a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son.

I don’t know much about the growing up of Zimarou Holmsley, but since her parents had six more children before she married Bill Isaacs and two more after she married, I’m sure she spent a lot of her years taking care of her younger brothers and sisters.

Zimarou was only 17 when she married William Calvin Isaacs, “Bill” to his friends. They married September 14, 1879.

On the back of the picture shown above of young Zimarou, someone in the family has written that Zimarou’s husband Bill was out of town when he was struck down by typhoid fever. Zimarou insisted on going to him to nurse him. She did, he pulled through, but she took typhoid and died herself on August 15, 1880.

They have an infant daughter buried in the Oakwood Cemetery that reportedly died on August 9, 1880. I have not found anything more about her death and if it was related to typhoid.

The August 21, 1880, issue of the Comanche Chief had a short notice of her sickness and death (I believe they were in the same paper, but that happened frequently in the old papers).

It reads:

Mrs. ISAACS, daughter of Mr. T.J. HOLMSLEY, is very ill, we are sorry to learn.

Death of Mrs. Issacs It seems sad that the angel of death should cut down one so young and endowed with so many womanly virtues. On Monday night last the spirit of Mrs. Wm. ISAACS took flight from its earthly friends to a better world. She was the daughter of Mr. T.J. HOLMSLEY, and only a few months ago was led to the bridal alter. A large procession of friends followed her remains to the grave. Christian or not, we do not know, neither do we enquire, but she was a true woman possessing every virtue necessary for a happy peace in that great unknown where her spirit has fled.Sudden Death

[Transcribed by Judy Michaels The Comanche Chief, Comanche, Texas. Saturday, August 21, 1880]

Zimarou <i>Holmsley</i> Isaacs

[Thank you, Russ Davies, Findagrave.com volunteer, for the gravestone photo]

Zimarou’s grave is in the Oakwood Cemetery in Comanche. The OTHER Zimarou in the family, Zimarou Cunningham Braziel, was born 5 years after Zimarou Isaacs died. I would guess that she was named after her first cousin who died young.

Tombstone Tuesday: James Conn Cunningham

In George Washington Cunningham, Gravestones, Obituary, San Angelo, Tombstone Tuesday on November 15, 2016 at 10:23 am


James Conn Cunningham was the oldest son of George Washington Cunningham (the youngest son in the Cunningham family). Conn was born to George and his wife Eliza (Isaacs) September 29, 1881 in Comanche County. His birthplace is likely in Mills County today as Mills was created out of Comanche County (and Brown, Hamilton, and Lampasas Counties) in 1887.

When he was just 6 or so, Mills County was created and his father was elected the first sheriff of Mills County during a very turbulent time of vigilantism. Lynchings and assassinations were commonplace in this area particularly after the Civil War and neighbors did not even trust their neighbors, not knowing who might be part of the secret vigilante groups. George served until 1894.

You have probably driven past the old Mill County Jail as you’ve passed through Goldthwaite.

Goldthwaite jail

This was the home the Cunningham family lived in as soon as it was built in 1888. This would have been Conn’s older sister Gertrude, his younger sister Mary Edna, and the baby Dave. Conn’s mother Eliza cooked for the prisoners as well as for her family.

They had only lived in the county jail for two years when his mother Eliza died. The four children went to live with Eliza’s sister “Aunt Betty” Meadows nearby during this difficult time.

In 1891, George W. Cunningham remarried. His new bride was Katy Danley McCall. She brought her young son Will McCall into the marriage. He was younger than Conn, right between Mary and Dave in age. George and Katy went on to have four of their own children.

When George was no longer sheriff, the family moved to San Angelo and he worked in law enforcement there in various capacities, including police chief.

Conn was a teenager and was soon part of the social scene of Tom Green County. On June 6, 1904, when he was almost 23, he married 17-year-old Winnie Francis Kersey in Christoval.


Conn and Winnie had two children, George Winford “Concho” Cunningham and Mary Elizabeth Cunningham.

In 1918, when their kids were still at home, the family lived at 410 West Concho in San Angelo, near the bend of the Concho River. I believe this is the house they were living in (2013 picture from Google).


Conn was now 36 years old and an established banker at the San Angelo National Bank. According to his draft registration for World War I, he was tall and slender and had gray eyes and black hair.

In 1932, children now grown and married, Conn and Winnie moved to Fort Stockton, Texas, and leased 30,000 acres from the University of Texas and he joined a long line of ranchers and stock raisers in the family.

For a period of 6 years, his Aunt Betty Meadows lived with them in her old age until her death in 1943. She felt like the Cunningham children were her own, having kept them after her sister died. Conn obviously returned the affection.

In 1958, Conn sold his cattle and ranching interests and he and Winnie moved back to San Angelo and lived for a time at the luxurious Cactus Hotel. It still stands today as the tallest building in town, though now it is apartments and a venue for weddings and parties. In 1959, they returned to Fort Stockton and built a home.

Winnie died on June 6, 1962, on their 58th wedding anniversary. Conn was ill and went to Roswell, New Mexico, to live with his daughter and her husband, Bill McCampbell,  just before his death, January 31, 1963, only six months after Winnie’s death.

Conn and Winnie are buried side by side in the East Hill Cemetery in Fort Stockton, Texas.



Thanks to Joyce Edgar Phipps, a FindaGrave.com volunteer who took this photo.

Tombstone Tuesday: Willie “Stella” Cunningham Richardson

In Genealogy records, Gravestones, Second Generation Stories, Tombstone Tuesday, William Henry on November 8, 2016 at 11:06 am

She was “Aunt Ted” in my family.

Stella Cunningham was the youngest daughter of William Henry Cunningham (he was the son of James and Susannah Cunningham, one of the Original 12) and his wife Mildred. She was born March 7, 1884, on their farm in Comanche County near Newburg and not far from the original Cunningham home place on Mountain Creek. When she was born she had 5 older sisters, with the oldest, Mollie, at 15 years old, and one older brother. Only Jim, her brother born less than a year later, was younger.

Stella Cunningham

I don’t know a lot about Stella, primarily because she didn’t have any children to tell those stories to us. But what I have learned from my own aunts (her great-nieces) was that she was an “old maid” when she married. She was 25. Times have changed.

She married James Augustus “Gus” Richardson on October 9, 1909. He was 44 years old and a widower. He had two sons from his previous marriage, but only his 12-year-old son Guy was still living at home.

All her life, she called her husband “Mr. Richardson.”

They moved to Houston County, Texas (near Crockett in East Texas) early in their marriage, but not long after they came back to farm in Hamilton County near Carlton (now a ghost town west of Hamilton).


They had no children of their own. His son Guy married a local girl and they farmed in the Indian Gap area and had a son. They later divorced and he worked at a refinery in Houston.

Stella and Mr. Richardson are buried in the Carlton Cemetery, which is a lot bigger than you would expect it to be. I visited it after a Cunningham Reunion a few years ago. It does not have the beautiful shade trees of the Newburg Cemetery so it was blazing hot and the grasshoppers and grass burrs were thick. I did my best to find their grave, but did not succeed. Thanks to findagrave.com volunteer Hardy Morgan, though, we can have a photo of their tombstone.


Stella in about 1959.


Tombstone Tuesday: The Chiltons

In Aaron, Genealogy records, Gravestones, Tombstone Tuesday on November 1, 2016 at 11:23 am

This Tombstone Tuesday will be short and to the point since I don’t have a lot of information on these women, but I do have a wonderful picture:


This photo comes to us from the Cunningham collection of William Cunningham, via his granddaughter Amy Pownall and daughter Betty Mitchell. Thank you Amy and Betty and William!

Look at those dresses! Those hats! Those high heels!

These women are all your relatives. The accompanying identifications has:


Aunt Susie, in the center, is Martha Susana* “Susa” Cunningham, the oldest daughter of the oldest son in the Cunningham family. She was named after her grandmothers, Martha Montgomery and Susanna Cunningham. She wasn’t the first grandchild in the family, (Aaron’s sister) Betty had already had three children before Susa was born, but she was the first child of Aaron Cunningham and Minerva (Montgomery) Cunningham so she was the first grandchild with the Cunningham last name. She was born October 22, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War. I would gauge her to be between 50 and 60 in this photo that is probably from 1915 to 1920.

“Aunt Susie” is buried next to her husband, G. A. Chilton in the Oakwood Cemetery in Comanche. When she died, she was the oldest person living in Comanche.


Photo credit to Russ Davies on findagrave.com

On the left of the photo is Aunt Susie’s and G.A. Chilton’s older daughter, Anna Bell Chilton. She was born June 28, 1884, and died December 13, 1952. She was married to Reuben T. Reid and they are buried in Oakwood Cemetery, too. Oddly, his grave has a photo on findagrave.com, but she does not. They had no children.

On the right of the photo is the younger daughter of Aunt Susie and G. A. Chilton, Minerva Elizabeth. She was named Minerva after “Aunt Susie’s” mother Minerva Cunningham. She was called “Mina.” Mina was born January 3, 1886. She married Townsend Fugitt Smalling and they moved through marriage, to New Mexico and then Pampa, Texas, where he had a car dealership. They are buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Pampa. She died in July of 1971 in Fairfax, Virginia. I need to investigate further to find out if her daughter was living in Virginia at the time. That would be my guess. Her husband had died in Pampa in 1942 and she is buried next to him.


Thank you findagrave contributor Daryl Caldwell for the photo.

And the little girl in the photo is Susie Belle Smalling, born in Oklahoma December 5, 1911. She went to Pampa High School, spent some time at the University of Southern California, graduated from the University of Texas, and married (possibly her high school sweetheart?) Billy Hyde, the son of the Presbyterian minister in Pampa. They moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, to start their marriage in 1934. In 1940 they were living in Arkansas and had a baby girl, Betty Sue. Billy was an industrial engineer for a gas company. I need to do some more research to find where Sue (she was known by Sue most of her life) died and where Betty Sue Hyde is today. She would be 76 years old now.

Some holes to be filled in on this family. Perhaps some of the Aaron family members know more stories from their folks?


*Her name is spelled Susana on her gravestone and in some information, but with 2 N’s in other places.