Janice Williams

Archive for the ‘Aaron’ Category

Tombstone Tuesday: Bertie Mae Cunningham Wynn

In Aaron, Gravestones, San Angelo, Second Generation Stories, Tombstone Tuesday on December 20, 2016 at 12:28 pm

It’s a busy time of year so we’ll keep this one short and sweet. That and I don’t have a lot of information about Bertie Cunningham, the second daughter of Aaron Cunningham and his first wife Minerva Montgomery. Bertie was only 3 years old when her mother died. She grew up with Amanda, Aaron’s second wife, as her mother. She was born September 20, 1880.

Jason W. Wynn was a surgeon in San Angelo who was 3 years older than Bertie. They married when she was 21.


She knew how to wear a hat! And what about that hatpin?

They lived in San Angelo where Dr. Wynn practiced. They had two sons and a daughter by 1907.

In the summer of 1911, Dr. Wynn died of tuberculosis. He was only 34. In the first 10 years of the 20th century, 4000 people a year died of tuberculosis in Texas. 1 Just after he died a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients was established near San Angelo.

There were 5 deaths in 6 years in the Wynn family, Dr. Wynn, 2 brothers, and both of his parents. His mother also died of tuberculosis.

After his death, Bertie stayed in their home in San Angelo. She did not remarry.  The children were 7, 6, and 4 when their father died.

Sadly, Bertie died just 13 years later when the kids were 21, 20, and 17.  She died of peritonitis.

Dr. Jason Wynn and Bertie Cunningham Wynn are buried in the Fairmount Cemetery in San Angelo where many of our family members were interred.



Dr. Wynn’s brothers, sister, and parents are all buried in the Wynn plot, too. It appears that his siblings never married.


Thanks again to San Angelo findagrave.com volunteer Steve Voss for the pictures of the Wynn tombstones.


Tombstone Tuesday: Thomas J. Cunningham

In Aaron, Gravestones, Oakwood Cemetery, Obituary, Second Generation Stories, Tombstone Tuesday on December 6, 2016 at 9:40 am

I don’t have a lot of information on Thomas J. Cunningham, but the condition of his obituary led me to choose him as our subject today. I am the caretaker of a lot of Cunningham artifacts and I have not inventoried them very well (yet!). Going through a pile of loose, very old clippings, Tom’s was in pitiful shape, in tatters, and almost impossible to read.


So that you don’t have to read the tattered copy, here is a transcription.

Comanche Chief June 23 1939

Tom Cunningham Funeral Services Held Here Sunday

Tom J. Cunningham, 57, attorney and criminal district court reporter, died at his home in Corus Christi early Saturday morning following a heart attack. Funeral services were held at Corpus Christi Saturday evening at 7:30 and services concluded in Comanche Sunday afternoon. The services here were under the direction of Rev. C. ?Klingman and Rev. E.M. Shepard and were held at the Central Christian Church. Interment was in Oakwood Cemetery.

He was born in the Newburg community and was the son of Aaron Cunningham and Minerva Montgomery Cunningham. He made his home at Comanche until after he had graduated from Comanche High School. From Comanche he moved to Eastland. Mr. Cunningham served as county judge of Eastland County for two terms and later was elected a state representative. Mr. Cunningham and family moved from Eastland to Corpus Christi six years ago and [he] has worked as court reporter in the Corpus Christi, Brownsville, and Kingsville criminal court district. He took an active interest in church and fraternal life. He was a member of the Christian Church, the Lions Club, the Eagles, and the Knights of Pythias.

Survivors include his wife, Catherine, a daughter, Mrs. Frank Owens, and two sons James and Tom Jr., all of Corpus Christi. In addition to his immediate family, he is survived by a sister, Mrs. O.A. Chilton of Comanche and five brothers, John Cunningham of Comanche, George Cunningham of Austin, David Cunningham of Houston, Leroy Cunningham of Temple, and Joe Cunningham of Mineral Wells. Pall bearers here were nephews of Mr. Cunningham. They were Rector and Miles Cunningham of Mineral Wells, Dr. Paul Cunningham of Houston, Roy and Dick Henson of Newburg, and Carl Stewart of Comanche.

Out of town persons at the service here were Joe Cunningham and family of Mineral Wells, D.H. Cunningham and family of Houston, Dr. and Mrs. Paul Cunningham of Houston, Leroy Cunningham and daughter Kathleen of Temple, Mrs. T.M. Smalling of Pampa, Don Gillespie of Corpus Christi and Mrs. Welborn Dunlap of Corpus Christi and Mr. ad Mrs. Hugh Clark and daughter Bettie and Mrs. Connie L. Smith of Dallas.


Other than what is in the obituary, I don’t know a lot about Tom. He was the youngest son of Aaron and Minerva and she died when he was only 18 months old, so he never knew his mother. Aaron married Amanda when Tom was about two and a half, so she was the mother he grew up with.

I don’t have a picture of Tom, though since he was a State Representative I suppose I could find one on the walls of the state capitol.

When he died, he was buried in Comanche in the Oakwood Cemetery. His wife lived almost 40 more years after his death, and she is buried beside him there.


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.

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.

1913 Reunion

In Aaron, Abilene, Basic Family Information, Dave Cunningham, David Houston Cunningham, Elizabeth Holmsley, George Washington Cunningham, James Washington Cunningham, Mary Jane Neely, Newspaper articles, Original 12 Cunninghams, Photos, San Angelo, Sheriffs, T.J. Holmsley, William Henry on January 1, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Below is the transcription of an article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about our family. This picture was also printed in the paper with the article.


Cunninghams of Comanche Largest Family in This State; 400 Members

Nine Brothers and Three Sisters and their Offspring Hold Notable Reunion—Five Men Have Served as Sheriff in Various Counties

Special to the Star-Telegram

COMANCHE, Texas, Aug. 30—The largest family in Texas, the Cunninghams, 400 in number, held a reunion last week at the home of David Cunningham, south of here. It appeared more like a state convention. Many of the younger members had to be introduced to their relatives. Captain James and Susan Cunningham, the progenitors, have not been dead long. But the family is remarkable in other ways than number. Five Cunninghams, all brothers, have served as sheriffs in Texas. The five meet at a recent state convention of sheriffs.

George W. Cunningham of San Angelo claims to have been the first child born in Comanche county. G.A. Cunningham is now mayor of Comanche.

Capt. James Cunningham and his wife came from Alabama to Texas in 1842 and after a few years in Travis and Williamson counties, located permanently in Comanche county. This was in 1855. This section was then part of the “wild West” and settlers lived far apart.

Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Holmsley were the first couple married in this county, this taking place in 1876. Holmsley was formerly Miss Bettie Cunningham, daughter of Captain Cunningham.

Jack Cunningham is the present sheriff of Comanche county. The Cunninghams had twelve children, nine sons and three daughters. These now have children and grandchildren of their own. They may be found in the picture as follows: Bottom row, left to right, Aaron Cunningham, Comanche; Mrs. T.J. Holmsley, Comanche; D. H. Cunningham, Comanche; R.T. Cunningham, Comanche; J.V. Cunningham, Huntsville; W. H. Cunningham, Newberg; J.W. Cunningham, Comanche; J.J. Cunningham, Pridy; T.A. Cunningham, Newberg; G. W. Cunningham, San Angelo; Mrs. J. M. Neeley, Spur; Mrs. J.R. Lewis, Brownwood.


I have a Xerox copy of a copy of this article in my possession, taken from a wonderful trove of family history saved by William Aaron Cunningham, Sr., the grandson of Aaron Cunningham, the father of Betty Mitchell and Nancy Satterfield that you may know from the reunion. Grandfather of Scott Olguin and Amy Pownall who are always with us in August.

The article says that 5 Cunningham men were sheriffs. Three served as sheriff of Comanche County:  Dave, Bill, and James.  John Valentine Cunningham was sheriff of Taylor County (Abilene) for many years. George was the first sheriff elected in Mills County and also served in law enforcement in San Angelo (Tom Green County). T.J. Holmsley, the husband of oldest daughter Betty, was also sheriff of Comanche County (1856-57), and Jack Cunningham, the son of Richard Cunningham (grandson of Capt. James) was sheriff of Comanche County from 1912-1916.

I need some more information about the dates of the 3 brothers that served as Comanche sheriffs. Alma Meadows Cox reports they were all sheriffs in her first genealogy of the family. The Patchwork of Memories, a book put out in 1976 by the Comanche Heritage Division Committee, has Dave’s term from 1878-80, James (J.W.) from 1884-1886, but there is no W.H. Cunningham. There is W.C. Cunningham, but his term from 1869-70 would have been when Bill was only 21 years old so I don’t think that is him. More research needed.

This was the last Cunningham reunion with all 12 children, by the way. Aaron Cunningham, the oldest, was the first to pass away in January of 1914.

It is also interesting to me to see that the Neelys were in Spur (at least according to this article) at this time. They were in Hamlin just a few years later when Joe Neely died. Also, I see that John Valentine Cunningham was in Huntsville. I didn’t know he ever strayed that far from his home in Abilene, but I bet some research could find him working for the State prison system as his nephew Kinlock Faulkner Cunningham was about this time. Gov. Colquitt was making some big reforms in the prison systems and the conditions there were being examined during this era. Again, more research needed.

Tombstone Tuesday: Amanda Jane Cunningham

In Aaron, Gravestones, Tombstone Tuesday on October 15, 2013 at 12:58 am


This grave is in the BIG cemetery of Comanche County: Oakwood. It is difficult to walk into that cemetery and find a specific gravestone if you don’t know where it is. But if you go in looking for Cunninghams in general, you are bound to find them.

It is easy to find the grave of Amanda Jane Cunningham. She was the second wife of the oldest Cunningham son, Aaron, and the mother of his 5 youngest children. She was born in Missouri with the name Amanda Jane McPherson. When Aaron married her she was the widow of William Henson. He died in 1881 and is buried in Hamilton county in the Pottsville Cemetery.

When Aaron’s first wife Minerva died in 1883 at the age of 39, she left him with 6 children–from 20-year-old Susa down to Thomas Jefferson Cunningham who was only 18 months old.

When Amanda’s husband died, he was only 33. She was only 28. She was left with 7-year-old Nancy and 4-year-old Mack Henson. And Amanda was also pregnant and soon would have the baby, Willie Pearl Henson.

Amanda was on her own with her 3 children for a few years. Aaron remained single after Minerva’s death for only 8 months. They joined their 2 families and their 9 children and then had 5 more.

When Aaron died in 1914, he and Amanda had been married almost 30 years, but he was laid to rest in the Albin Cemetery next to his first wife Minerva and babies they lost together. He was 78 when he died, but Amanda was only 61. She lived another 14 years and then was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery. She was buried near their son James Rector Cunningham who died fighting in World War I.

James Rector Burton

In Aaron, General Musings, Photos, Second generation, World War I on September 3, 2013 at 1:02 am

I stumble upon many things that surprise me and make me happy when I’m researching the family. Most of what I am doing right now is just trying to find official confirmation for the birth and death dates that we have and add place locations to those births. There are many more government records online than there ever have been, so I’m just adding sources to information that has just been given to us by family members.

But I stumble upon things. Like the fact that James Rector Burton was a schoolteacher at Austin High School. I use the website findagrave.com frequently and I found where a girl named “fluttergirl” had added this picture of James Rector Burton to the picture of his grave from the Oakwood Cemetery.


She says in her comments that this is from the 1935 Austin High School yearbook where “Mr. Burton” was teaching Spanish and drama.

I’m sure there are AHS yearbooks at the Austin History Center here in Austin. I will have to go see if there are other pictures.

Now, who is he? There are several men with the name “James Rector” in our family. In the Aaron Cunningham family, James Rector Cunningham fought in World War I and was killed overseas. His death prompted other people in our family to name their children James Rector.

This James Rector Burton, this schoolteacher, is not actually a blood descendant of the Cunninghams. But his mother, Willie Pearl Henson, was just a toddler when her father died and her mother, Amanda Jane Henson, married Aaron Cunningham. Aaron Cunningham was the only father that Willie Pearl Henson ever knew and James Rector Cunningham, the fifth child born to Aaron and Amanda, was Willie’s baby brother, born when she was just 10 years old. She named her son John Rector Burton after her baby brother when her baby brother was only 14 years old. John Rector Burton was named for his uncle before his uncle was a war hero.

This James Rector Burton served in World War II (after he was a schoolteacher at AHS). He continued to be a schoolteacher and I assume he taught in Comanche because he died in Comanche in 1969.

What is also amazing to me as I find these stories and they seem to be from so long ago… I look at the connections and figure out how he fit into the family and realize that his younger sister is Linda Rippetoe. She is an active member of the Comanche community and a frequent guest of our reunion. She was there last month with us. Linda may be in her 90s now, but she is as vital and engaged as she can be. Now I want to go to her and find out more about John Rector Burton, her brother, and know the stories her mother told about growing up with Aaron Cunningham.

Comanche’s Historic Depot

In Aaron, Comanche the city, William Henry, World War I on July 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm


I have subscribed to the Comanche Chief for a few years now. Hardly an issue goes by that I don’t see a family member’s name in there or read something interesting about our “home” town (no, I never have lived there). Sometimes I don’t get around to the paper until weeks after it has arrived at the house. Today, Christine Tandy Perkins’ picture jumped off the page at me. She is the Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and the chamber is now moving their offices to the renovated Comanche Depot.

I don’t know if it will be open when we have our reunion, but at least we’ll be able to peek in the windows. The dedication ceremonies and celebration for the reopening will be September 15.

I’m sure someone in your family has a reunion story. The depot opened in 1912 and was an active and integral part of the Comanche area until the 50s. My mother (Pat Hallford Williams) remembers being at “JTAC” (Tarleton) when her grandfather Edward Lewis Hallford, who was married to Henrietta Cunningham, daughter of William of the original 12, died of a heart attack in their Newburg home. Mother’s parents lived in Quanah and called before they made their was down. She was instructed to take the train from Stephenville to Comanche and arrived at that Comanche depot for the funeral. Ed and Het Hallford are buried in the Newburg Cemetery, of course.

I’m also thinking about the young men from the Comanche and Newburg communities that left from this train to go serve in World War I and II. I suppose many from our family made that journey. I’ve been working on the stories of our two family soldiers who were killed in France. James Rector Cunningham from the Aaron branch was the first person from Comanche killed in that war and the American Legion Hall is named after him. Bernard Cunningham from the William branch was also killed in France. He lived in the Hamilton community when he shipped out. I hope to soon tell their stories here for you… and see if I can round up all the men in the family named “Rector” after James Rector Cunningham.

The reunion is rapidly approaching. I will be bringing a fabulous photo from a reunion in the early part of the 20th century. You may have seen the photo before, but never with THIS much clarity, I promise. See you soon cousins.