Janice Williams

Archive for the ‘Elizabeth Holmsley’ Category

Tombstone Tuesday: Jim Holmsley

In Elizabeth Holmsley, Gravestones, Newspaper articles, Oakwood Cemetery, Obituary, Second generation, Second Generation Stories, T.J. Holmsley, Tombstone Tuesday on January 17, 2017 at 12:01 pm


This is a great photo that comes to me from Ruth Adele Moore and from my great-grand-aunt Edrie Cunningham.

It is a souvenir photograph from Mineral Wells, Texas, taken around 1905. There are several photos similar to this one on The Portal to Texas History, a great source for research or entertainment.


Apparently photos like this were taken as people enjoyed the recreation available on East Mountain in Mineral Wells. According to The Portal, J.C. McClure, an early photographer, first owned the donkeys for the trail. He was killed while riding a wild stallion in town and J.L. Young and his wife took over the photography stand. The back of this picture advertises the Texas and Pacific Railway and also the Jericho Photo Co. with “Fine Photographic Productions and Mountain and Donkey Groups / View Souvenirs & Scenery of Minwells.” Little truly identifies this picture for us except in small handwriting it does have “Jim Holmsley” written above the man on the right side. No identification on the other man and I think he would be identified if he had been a family member.

The picture is of our cousin James Jefferson Holmsley, who went by the name of Jim. He was the youngest son of the Holmsley children, second youngest overall. By the time he was born, two of his older sisters were married and had children–Jim’s nieces and nephews–who were older than their uncle. 

Jim probably had the most advantages of the Holmsley children because he was born after the native Americans were no longer a threat and the Holmsleys were settled and prosperous in Comanche.

Jim was only 21 when his father T.J. Holmsley died. Jim continued to live with his mother, Betty Holmsley, in Comanche until her death when he was 40 years old. He had continued to farm and raise livestock, according to the censuses of 1910 and 1920.

After her death, at some point Jim moved to the Hotel Carter in Comanche and lived there for several years. He was working for the highway department in some capacity, too. Sadly, in the summer of 1932, the hotel burned to the ground. Fifteen other residents and guests were able to escape with their lives, but losing their belongings, but Jim was asleep on the second floor and did not make it out of the burning building.

He was buried at Oakwood Cemetery. He never married and had no children.

An article in the Abilene paper about his relatives living there notes that nephew T.J. Holmsley had immediately left for Comanche. T.J. (Tom) had lived with his grandmother Betty and Jim perhaps all of his life. He is listed at 6 and 16 years old with them in the census. He was Jim’s oldest brother Billy’s son, but Tom’s mother had died when he was born, so perhaps he came to live with Betty at that time.


Jim was only 49 years old when he died.


Thank you to findagrave.com contributor Russ Davies for this photo.


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: 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

In Elizabeth Holmsley, T.J. Holmsley, Tombstone Tuesday on September 15, 2014 at 10:54 pm

I have begun a project where I’m researching the grandchildren of James and Susannah Cunningham more in depth. I began with the first grandchild, Mary Susannah Holmsley, the first child of Betty and T.J. Holmsley. But we’ll start with the end of her life and her gravestone in the Fairmount Cemetery in San Angelo.

Thank you to Steve Voss who has taken so many wonderful photos of our family gravestones in this cemetery for Findagrave.

While we think of the separate generations of the Cunningham family with the 12 “aunts” and “uncles” we refer to and then the 100 or so grandchildren, it is hard to remember that the generations are all muddled. George Washington Cunningham, the youngest boy in the family, was just a baby when Mary, the first grandchild, was born. And Mary was older than her own Aunt Mary Jane and Aunt Unity. So while it is easy to picture Susannah Cunningham being the doting grandmother, she was still the mother of babies and small children and certainly didn’t get to play the role of grandmother that most do today.

Mary Susannah Holmsley was born to the Cunningham’s oldest daughter Betty who was the first in the county to marry. Mary was born August 30, 1858. There is no clear indication of where she was born, but it looks like they were still living in Comanche County and she was possibly born in the old homestead.

The family moved soon after to Uvalde County, Texas, and continued their pioneering ways, still encountering Indian raids. Mary met Monroe Bell Pulliam who had been born in Collin County, Texas (north of Dallas), but he was in Uvalde as a small boy. Two of his brothers were killed by Indians and Monroe himself was wounded in an Indian raid when he was just 14.

Mary married Monroe Pulliam in 1874. She was the grandchild of the Cunninghams, but she married before 5 of her aunts and uncles did. The couple married in Uvalde when he was 22 and she was 15.

Soon after they married, they traveled north with a head of 1000 cattle. They stopped where the Spring Creek converged with the Concho River and built an adobe house about 20 miles west of Fort Concho. Mary was pregnant during the move and had their first child, a daughter in November. In that first winter the Indians stole all of their saddle horses and they went through a very hard time.

The next year, Monroe drove 600 cattle to Kansas City. Mary may have been left at home with her little girl to mind the ranch.

Three more children were born to the family and in 1887 they moved to San Angelo, built a beautiful home, and Pulliam was the president of the old San Angelo National Bank. In 1905 he became the director of the First National Bank and had an office there for 30 years.

All of the Pulliam children were grown and Mary Susannah was just a few weeks shy of 55 when she died in San Angelo in 1913. She died from complications from a surgery. It was only a week before the big annual Cunningham Reunion that was already important to family members. She had planned to be there. We can only imagine how sad family members were at the reunion to have lost their first niece and cousin.


(Not the best picture.)

Monroe Bell Pulliam, who had been called “Nub” his whole life, remarried after a few years and lived with his second wife for 20 years until his death in 1937. He is buried next to Mary in the Pulliam plot at the Fairmount Cemetery.


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.