Janice Williams

Archive for the ‘Genealogy records’ Category

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.

Tombstone Tuesday: Erie Palestine Cunningham Ligon

In Abilene, Genealogy records, Gravestones, Second generation, Second Generation Stories, Tombstone Tuesday on January 7, 2014 at 10:05 am


Erie Palestine Cunningham was the youngest of the five children of John Valentine Cunningham. He was one of “Indian fighting” sons of Capt. James and Susannah Cunningham; the son who moved on to Taylor County to become their longest serving sheriff.

Erie had two older sisters and two older brothers.


Erie married Lewis Preston Ligon when she was 18 years old and he was 22. I have read that he was possibly a confectioner and brought that talent over from his family in France (that fact from his great-granddaughter Kim Frost England, cited on the web).

Erie and Lewis had 8 children, but the first died as a baby and the second as only a 4-year-old. But Erie must have had difficulty with the birth of her youngest, John James Ligon, because she died only a month later, at age 38. She is buried in the Abilene City Cemetery near her daughter, Irene, her husband, and her parents. 

We have lost touch with most of her descendants, but it appears that they mostly live in California, Washington, and Oregon now.


Born: Feb. 22, 1876

Married: Nov. 20, 1894

Died: July 17, 1914

Our 2012-2013 Deaths

In Genealogy records, Obituary on July 30, 2013 at 9:02 am

I apologize for the incredibly long gap here. Time to do some catch up as we prepare for the 2013 reunion. I have been compiling information about the family to bring to the reunion next week and looking over the obituaries that I have from the last year or so. Let me share the list and I will also share full obituaries soon. If I have missed someone, please let me know.

Beginning with the most recent and going back to last year’s reunion:

Jim Lockridge (James Maston Lockridge) born October 29, 1934, in the Pettit Community in Comanche County, died July 24, 2013, in Tyler. Jim was the son of Homer Hubbard Lockridge and Susie Lee Willis. Susie was the granddaughter of Unity Lewis of the original 12 Cunninghams.

Bob Chandler (Robert Emmett Chandler III) born February 14, 1923, in Mexia, Texas, died July 4, 2013, in Midland. Bob was the son of Robert Emmett Chandler, Jr., and Mary “Opal” Inzer. Bob (Jr.) was the grandson of Betty Holmsley of the original 12 Cunninghams.

Ellen Dearson (Emma Ellen Jones Dearson) born December 23, 1915, in Mills County, died May 4, 2013, in Weatherford, Texas. Ellen was the daughter of Evans Jones and Ruth Cunningham. Ruth was the daughter of Joseph Cunningham of the original 12 Cunninghams.

Eddie Savage (Eddie James Savage) born November 7, 1938, in Hollis, Oklahoma, died May 2, 2013, in Bay City. Eddie was the son of Lee Hugh Savage and Margaret Cunningham Wever. Margaret was the granddaughter of Bill Cunningham of the original 12 Cunninghams.

Ruby Joe Freeman (Ruby Joe Jones Freeman) born May 31, 1918, died April 25, 2013. Ruby Joe was the daughter of Evans Jones and Ruth Cunningham and the sister of Ellen Dearson (above) who died only a couple of weeks after she did. Their mother Ruth was the daughter of Joseph Cunningham of the original 12 Cunninghams.

Sally Stout (Sarah Lee Seay Stout) born February 28, 1939, in Dallas, Texas, died April 10, 2013, in Dallas. Sally was the daughter of Charles Eugene Seay and Sarah Lee “Sadie” Meadows. Sadie was the great-granddaughter of Betty Holmsley.

Lowell Longmire (Lowell Kenneth Longmire) born August 1, 1931 in Rockdale, Texas, died March 25, 2013, Anderson County, Texas. Lowell was the son of Shapard Longmire and Mary Lou Cunningham. Mary Lou was the granddaughter of Richard Cunningham of the original 12 Cunninghams.

Vera Powell (Vera Rado Jones Powell) born August 9, 1919, in Comanche County, Texas, died March 14, 2013, in Cavendish, Idaho. Vera was also the sister of Ellen and Ruby Joe (above). The three sisters all died with a few weeks of one another.

Nancy Wasson (Nancy Ellen Cunningham Wasson) born April 5, 1938, in Houston, Texas, died March 6, 2013, in Gatesville. Nancy was the daughter of David “Herbert” Cunningham and Blanche Ellen “Helen” Weatherhead. Herbert was the grandson of Aaron Cunningham of the original 12 Cunninghams.

David Goodson (David Herbert Goodson) born Feb 9, 1942, Mineral Wells, Texas, died Decemeber 22, 2012, Abilene, Texas. David was married to Virginia “Ruth” Robertson, the daughter of Virginia Wood. Ruth is the great-great-granddaughter of David Cunningham of the original 12 Cunninghams.

Bill Cunningham (William Aaron Cunningham, Jr.) born November 26, 1933, in San Angelo, Texas, died October 6, 2012, in Wenatchee, Washington. Son of William Aaron Cunningham, Sr., and Mary Eugenia Bolling. William (Sr.) was the grandson of Aaron Cunningham.

Joyce Ellis (Joyce Ann Willis Ellis) born November 9, 1933, Comanche, Texas, died September 5, 2012, Alvin. Daughter of George Robert Willis and Alma Irene “Peggy” Hamilton. George was the grandson of Unity Lewis.

Aubrey Willis (Aubrey Buckner Willis) born February 7, 1919, in Midlothian County, Texas, died July 15, 2012, in New Braunfels, Texas. Aubrey was married to Jim Pete Willis who was the grandson of Unity Lewis.

“Aunt Oat”

In Genealogy records, General Musings, Second Generation Stories on August 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm

I have a little mystery in our branch of the Cunningham family I’ve been trying to figure out with no luck. Maybe you can shed more light on the story somehow.

I come from the William Henry Cunningham branch of the Capt. James and Susie family. He was the sixth child in the family. I am descended from his daughter Henrietta.

But it is her sister Lottie Oatley Cunningham that I am curious about. I’ve been told she was called “Oat.”



That’s her with her husband Oscar Mason. They were married February 26, 1902 when she was – dare I say it – an old maid at 28!

Here is a picture of her later in life:



In her pictures she always looks rather fun-loving. She died in 1969, so I’m sure many of you knew her. I did not know her, but I knew her daughter Wilma – who we all called Bill.

But the mystery goes back to May 3, 1873, her birth. At some point a while back I found her death certificate. Everything on it appeared to be correct. It had the correct full names of her parents and the information was all given by her daughter, who I know would know whereof she spoke. But it listed her birth as “Kansas.” That made no sense to me in this family of Texans where the Cunninghams were firmly established in Comanche County and every child in their family appeared to have been born in Comanche County. Flukes of records happen all the time so I just assumed it was an error and wrote it down, but wrote down my doubts about it, too.

Just a few weeks ago I came across that notation and decided I could check census records as another source. I looked at the 1930 census after Oat was married and living in Cisco, Texas. It clearly shows her birth in Kansas (it has it spelled out and everything). In 1920 they were living out west of San Angelo in Mertzon, Texas, and, again, the census shows Kansas spelled out as her birthplace. In 1910 they lived in Stamford, north of Abilene, and again, yes, Kansas. Not only is her birth listed as Kansas on her line, on their daughter’s line, it has where her parents were born and clearly shows Kansas again for Oat’s birthplace.

Back to the 1900 census where Ota (as it was often recorded) was living at home and was single at 27 in Comanche County. Here the evidence really piles up because one would assume that the parents were the ones that answered the census takers questions. Again, Kansas is her birth next to Texas for her younger sister Maggie.

I’m sure you’ve concluded that Oat was born in Kansas and I suppose I have, too. Things are odd in the 1880 census however where she doesn’t exist! Her parents and her older sister Mollie and her older brother Thomas are listed in the census, but she is missing along with her sisters Henrietta and Maggie (all three under 10 at the time). I searched high and low and can’t find them in the census, so I don’t know where they were being hidden at that point.

But if we move on on the premise that she was born in Kansas… WHY? I’ve been reading up on the cattle drives to Kansas and she was born in 1873 at the very peak of the cowboy culture and cattle drives from the Comanche area straight up the Western Trail to Ellsworth, Kansas. Did her mother Mildred go along on a cattle drive? I found a Cunningham cousin’s family tree on ancestry.com and she has Oat born in Kansas City, Missouri, but with no source to verify it with other than census and our family’s 100th anniversary book. Neither say that where she was born with that town. Sure, there were trains in those days, but from what I’ve read, there weren’t any that extended toward Comanche at all and it was later in the 1870s before they were very prevalent in the northern part of the state at all. Mildred going out on the cattle drive makes the most sense, even though she had a 4-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son at the time. Maybe they went along, too?

This is one of those mysteries that I doubt will ever be solved to my satisfaction. But if you have ideas on how to search or remember Aunt Oat once telling you all about her Kansas birth, please let me know.

Joseph Jackson Cunningham

In Genealogy records, Joseph Jackson Cunningham, Original 12 Cunninghams on July 4, 2011 at 4:16 am

As I get this blog started, I want to put the focus on individuals and families within the Cunningham family. There are so many interesting people to choose from. There are many great photos that have been gathered and distributed throughout the family. I may not be able to give credit to who contributed these wonderful photos, but I am forever grateful.

As I begin to do this, I am struck by all that I don’t know, so forgive me for what research has not been done on this family. I look forward to getting more information as people discover this blog and let me learn from you.


Born Feb. 11, 1852 in Comanche County, Texas.

Married to George Etta Montgomery on September 8, 1873 in Comanche County, Texas.

Married Nannie Chancellor on March 3, 1887 in Comanche County, Texas.

Died September 30, 1918 in near Proctor in Comanche County, Texas.

Buried in the Albin Cemetery, Comanche County, Texas.

++ + + +

We’ll start with the information that our cousin Alma Meadows Cox gave to us 90 years ago:


Born Feb. 11, 1852. Married Sept. 6, 1875, George Etta Montgomery. Died Sept. 30, 1918. Lived all of his life in Comanche County. When he married he established the home in which he lived until he died, only a few miles from the old homestead. In Hog Creek fight. (See notes.)

We will get to her notes one of these days.

Mrs. Cox calls her George Etta Montgomery in the section under Joseph’s name, but she has GEORGIA ETTA MONTGOMERY listed as her name next to his in the heading. In an early census she was called “Etty” and in a census when she was 21 she was “Georgia.” Georgia was, according to the Cox book, “Born June 3, 1858, died Sept. 8, 1883.” She is buried in the Albin Cemetery and her gravestone has “George Etta (wife of J.J. Cunningham)” and has her death date on September 7, 1883.

George was only 15 years old when she married. She was only 25 when she died, presumably from complications of delivery of her fourth child, George, who was born 4 days before she died. She left Joe with this newborn and his 3 older brothers, the oldest, Fush, was just about to turn 7. Poor Joe was just 32 when she died.

I can’t know how Joe managed to raise those 4 children at the time. All of his brothers and sisters had small children of their own by then, but perhaps his mother, who was about 64 at the time, stepped in to help.

After 3 years and 6 months had passed since George Etta died, Joe was now 35 and he married the just-almost-20-year-old Nannie Chancellor. Together they added 11 more children to the family over the next 12 years with one set of twins in the bunch, but 3 dying in infancy. Mrs. Cox lists Nannie’s birthdate as May 10, 1869, but the 1900 census lists her as 33 and has her birth in May of 1867. Her gravestone confirms it also as May 10, 1867. She died November 23, 1921 and is also buried in the Albin Cemetery.

Joseph Jackson Cunningham had more children than any of his 11 brothers and sisters. With his 2 wives, he fathered 14 children. By my count in our family records, he had 32 grandchildren, 82 great-grandchildren, 127 great-great-grandchildren, and, so far, 37 3xgreat-grandchildren. Interestingly, in just a quick look through the files, I think there may only be one male left in the family with the Cunningham last name, but I don’t know if he has any children or not. There are many familiar family names in this line, though. From Armentrout to McNew to Smith and Bentley. Many of the Joseph Jackson line attend the reunion. I do believe, too, that Velda Samuels is the only person in the family that attends the reunion that is a grandchild of one of the original 12 Cunninghams. She is Joseph Jackson’s granddaughter and is the child of his youngest son Earl Clements. Of course there are older members of the family that are active in the reunion, but they fall at least one generation later.

Where this blog is going?

In Genealogy records, General Musings on June 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Almost every day I am doing some research on the Cunningham family. On the days that I am not doing research on the Cunningham family, I am thinking about the Cunningham family. This in no way means I am an expert on the Cunningham family. I wish I were. But it does make me qualified to post interesting sketches about the oh-so-interesting people that we are related to in this family.

I was thinking last night about the people I am eternally grateful to for their previous research on this family:

Mrs. Howard B. Cox

It was years before I knew that Mrs. Howard B. Cox was anything other than Mrs. Howard B. Cox. But she was born with the name Alma Meadows and her grandmother was “Aunt Betty” of the original 12 Cunningham children, the oldest daughter. Alma married Howard Cox and they lived at Ozona, Texas, at some point in their lives, I believe and died in San Angelo and are buried there. She died there before I was born. My debt to her is for her first amazing effort at documenting the family history. She created a book in about 1927 with the family trees of each of the 12 children and historical information about the original family. Think about how one did research in those days before the Internet or giant genealogical libraries were available! But, by putting it down and having copies printed, that history has stood the test of time and has been the document that has been referred to time and time again. I will write a blog post devoted just to that book at some future time and I am curious how many copies of it now exist? I am lucky enough to own a very dog-eared and tattered copy.

F. Lee Lawrence

I met Lee Lawrence when I began attending the Cunningham Reunion in about 1986 after I had moved to Dallas and could go to the reunion on my own. He quickly got me involved in the planning of the 100th reunion and happily included me in the family. He had done research and study into the Cunningham family for 30 years before I knew what the family was all about and he was the driving force in getting the historical markers placed on Capt. Cunningham’s grave and restoring the original homestead. As I do research today I come across his name in historical journals and find that he had found out so many things I’m finding out now. I feel like I’m on the right track when I come across his name.

Ruth Adele Waggoner

Ruth Adele opened up her home for the planning of that 100th reunion and I began to get to know her then. She has been the secretary of the reunion for many years and her attention to the details of addresses and information is priceless. I know there were secretaries before her — Leona Armentrout used to send us the postcard each year before I knew what it was all about — but it is Ruth Adele that has been so helpful to me in keeping up with the information I am seeking.

Effie Birdwell

Effie was a one-of-a-kind woman and she was an avid researcher and knew so much about the family. She was the driving force, I believe, along with Bill Lawrence to put together the family tree book that came out for the 100th reunion. To update a family after 60 years of not having documentation of the children that were born and the deaths that had occurred was Herculean, but they managed to not only obtain tons of information, they put it together in a beautiful, usable format.

Margaret Waring

Margaret is not a direct descendant of “our” Cunninghams, but she is a cousin to us through the Tate family. She has been the librarian in Comanche for 50 years and if there is an answer that can be found in the Comanche Library, she is the person to turn to. She will steer you to the right documents, make you take good notes with source citations, and will continue to find clues for you long after you leave the library. She has become my good friend over these last 25 years of going to reunions and I appreciate her continued help in all my family research and her enthusiasm for all the projects I involve myself in.

* * *

What I hope to do in the coming weeks and months is to create sketches of individual members of the family. First, the original 12 children and what we know about their lives and then on to other family members and current events as well. While we are working on getting the information to more and more family members now that many have the software and the interest to look into the entire database of information, it is easy to miss the small stories about the Cunningham family member that was accused of murder, or the one that regularly sailed from Havana to New Orleans, or the many law enforcement officers and school teachers that helped settle, tame, and educate Texas. So many stories to tell. I look forward to sharing them with you.