Janice Williams

Tombstone Tuesday: James Conn Cunningham

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

C_Conn

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.

C_JConn_Winnie

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).

C_JConn_Winnie_home1917-Dec2012

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.

C_JamesConn_obitwpic

C_JConn_grave_fag

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

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  1. Another good one Janice!

    Becky

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