Janice Williams

Archive for the ‘Tombstone Tuesday’ 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: 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: Eldora Jewell Cunningham

In Abilene, Gravestones, Obituary, Second generation, Second Generation Stories, Tombstone Tuesday on December 13, 2016 at 1:14 am

John Valentine Cunningham had three beautiful daughters. Here is his family in about 1895:


Our subject today is Eldora Jewell Cunningham, the second oldest in the family. I assume she is second from the left. She was born January 27, 1869, so she was about 26 in this photo. She went by the name Jewell.


Jewell was born in Bosque County when John V. and Mattie had moved there to ranch and he also served as the postmaster. The family moved to Buffalo Gap and her father became the second Sheriff of Taylor County. At that time, Buffalo Gap was a bustling town of 1200 and a Presbyterian College there gave the town the moniker “The Athens of the West.” Jewell was a student at the college.

The Cunninghams moved into the new county seat of Abilene in 1883 and John V. continued as sheriff of Taylor County.

I don’t know how Jewell met her husband Dick Bracken, but the story of their elopement to Anson, Texas, (23 miles north) became a family legend and was recalled for an article in the Abilene newspaper in 1956, many years after their deaths.

“The hack with two couples in it dashed up to the Star Hotel at 11:30 and after Bracken quickly obtained the license, he and 19-year-old Jewell were married in the hotel parlor by the Rev. J.H. Wiseman. Jinks Magee, the driver, later took them to Merkel to catch the train for the groom’s home in San Antonio.”

Dick was 9 years older than Jewell. Since her father was always well armed, maybe elopement was the best decision!

Dick Bracken had been raised in several places in Texas and his father had been a grocery owner in Lampasas at one time.

It looks like they lived in New Mexico in their early married life where he managed a ranch for a short time. They then returned to Abilene and Dick Bracken owned the Gilt Edge saloon and possibly another called Gray’s Saloon.

In 1893 they left Abilene and moved with their two children to Mineola, Texas. He was a cow buyer there and they had two more children and were there at least until 1900.

Dick Bracken died February 20, 1904, age 43, and is buried in Abilene. I am not sure if they were living there by the time he died and I don’t know what he died of. But I know that Jewell was left with children ages 13, 10, 8, and 4. She never remarried.

It appears that Jewell and her children lived at 342 Sycamore in Abilene, just a couple of blocks from the Courthouse. I wish Google Street View would go back about 100 years so we could see what the house looked like. Now that area is all warehouses and parking lots.

It must have been a very large home because in 1920 Jewell was running it as a rooming house. Her son (now in his 20s) is still living with her along with about 10 men and women that work at a hotel.

Jewell was a widow for 38 years and she died on her father’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, 1942, at St. Ann’s hospital in Abilene. She had been there for five weeks. She was 73.


So you don’t have to read the small print, here is the obit text:

Early Taylor County Resident, Indian Fighter’s Daughter, Dead

Funeral service for Mrs. Jewell Bracken, pioneer Abilenian, will be held at 5 o’clock this afternoon from Laughter’s Chapel with burial in the Masonic Cemetery. The Reverend J.H. Hamblin, pastor of the First Methodist Church of which Mrs. Bracken was a member will conduct the service assisted by the Rev. Willis P. Gerhart, rector of the Heavenly Rest Episcopal Church.

Mrs. Bracken died at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at St. Ann’s Hospital where she had been a patient five weeks. She had been ill since December. She is survived by 3 children, Mrs. H.O. Everts of San Angelo, Mrs. D.A. Winter, and Charles Bracken, and four grandchildren, Bob Kennedy, Jerry, Joe, and Jean Bracken. Mrs. Bracken died on the birthday of her father, the late John Valentine Cunningham, who had received his name from his birthdate Valentine Day. Cunningham was Taylor County’s second sheriff and tax assessor , an office which he held for 25 years. When he was 13 years of age he was an Indian fighter and with his two brothers and father Capt. James Cunningham he fought in the Dove Creek Battle in which his father was commander of the 500 white men who attacked 1000 Indians.

The Cunningham family moved from Comanche County to Buffalo Gap in 1880 and Mrs. Bracken was a student there in the old Presbyterian College. Sheriff at the time, the county seat was moved from Buffalo Gap to Abilene, Cunningham moved his family here at that time. He later served as a U.S. Marshall. Mrs. Bracken was born January 27, 1869 in Bosque County and was married to Dick Bracken on August 7, 1888, at Anson. Bracken died in 1904. Pall bearers will be Wylie Norwood, Art Faustgen, George Elliot, Earl Walker, Emmette Chandler, and Will Stevens.

Feb. 15, 1942 Abilene Reporter News Sunday


I think the saddest part of the story could be that her oldest son is not listed as a survivor. He was still alive and living in Washington State, but apparently had been out of touch with the family for many years. On his draft registration for World War I there is a blank for “someone who will always know where you are” (or something like that) and he wrote “None.”


Jewell is buried in the Abilene Municipal Cemetery by her husband, and infant son John Valentine Bracken. Nearby are her parents and sister Erie Ligon.



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: 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.

Tombstone Tuesday: Mary Jane Neely

In Abilene, Gravestones, Mary Jane Neely, Obituary, Original 12 Cunninghams, Tombstone Tuesday on October 25, 2016 at 11:00 am

This gravestone picture is from Findagrave.com, thank you Russ Davies for taking the picture.


Mary Jane Cunningham was born in 1860, the second to the last child of Captain James and Susanna Cunningham. Her brother Aaron, the oldest child, was 24 when she was born. Her older sister Betty was already married and had a child.

At 15, she married Joe Neely and had 9 children that lived past infancy and 4 who died very young. Joe died when he was 62 and they were living in Hamlin, in Jones County, Texas.

Mary Jane lived her final days in the household of her daughter Mary Stephens in Abilene. She died just before she turned 79, 21 years after Joe.

Both were taken back to the Oakwood Cemetery in Comanche to be buried. T.J. and Betty Holmsley and many other family members of the next generation had already been buried in Oakwood by the time she died.