Janice Williams

Archive for the ‘William Henry’ Category

Tombstone Tuesday: Edrie Cunningham

In Oakwood Cemetery, Obituary, The OTHER Cunninghams, William Henry on January 24, 2017 at 11:20 am

Edrei from family portrait

I mentioned last week that the photo of Jim Holmsley came to me from Edrie Cunningham’s scrapbook. I realized I should honor her with her own post to thank her for her scrapbook of local news clippings. A great number of the Comanche Chief newspapers do not exist. The librarian Margaret Waring told me that sad news years ago and I wonder what pieces of information about our Comanche ancestors lives we might know if we had those newspapers.

But Edrie cut out many local citizens’ obituaries and most of her relatives. I haven’t made an inventory of them all, but it will be interesting to see the time span of her scrapbook. Even after she died, her daughter Mabel continued to put loose clippings into the book. And that is why we have Edrie’s obituary.


There is one fact about Edrie that no one else in the family can claim. She is our only family member whose name was Cunningham at her birth and still Cunningham after her marriage. Edrie married William Albert Cunningham, a member of the “other” Cunningham family that we’ve referred to before. His ancestors are buried in the Newburg Cemetery just like hers.

This was their wedding photo. They married December 4, 1902.


Edrie Susannah was born January 6, 1881. She was baby number 6 our of 8 born to William Henry Cunningham of the original 12 Cunningham children. Her middle name is the same as her grandmother Susannah.

Edrie lived her whole life in Comanche County, much of it in the Newburg Community before they moved into town.

Edrie and Albert had three daughters: Willie Mildred “Miller,” Mattie Lucille “Sade,” and Mabel Edrie “Bud.” They died at 87, 92, and 88 and they were all faithful to the reunion until their dying day.


Here are the “girls” in 2001 (Miller, Bud, Sade).

2001-08-07 14.12.46

Of course, Edrie was faithful to the reunion as well. Here is a picture of Edrie (third from left) with her brothers and sisters at the reunion.

2001-08-06 22.25.18

When Edrie died on May 11, 1965, she lived in a nursing home in Dublin. In the obituary I see that my grandfather, Arla Hallford, was a pallbearer. He was her nephew.

Edrie and Albert were buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Comanche.


Thanks to findagrave contributory GenLady for 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.


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: Bernard Cunningham

In Gravestones, Photos, Second generation, Tombstone Tuesday, William Henry, World War I on September 30, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Our first 2 tombstones for Tombstone Tuesday were in the cemetery that is nearest and dearest to me as a Cunningham, the Newburg Cemetery. But today we’ll move 30 miles west to a cemetery you may never have been to. It’s the Old I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Hamilton and the grave of Bernard Cunningham.

This is one of the prettiest gravestones I have seen in our family:


This is the east side of the gravestone. The west side is the side that you’ll see first if you are driving through the cemetery looking for it. It is hard to miss:


And this is a close-up of the name and dates.


Now, who is Bernard Cunningham? I have many pictures and stories about Bernard Cunningham. But the shortest version is that he was the son of Tom and Lona Cunningham and Bernard was killed in World War I. Tom, Bernard’s father, was the oldest son of Bill Cunningham of the original 12 Cunningham “kids.” Bill Cunningham raised his family very close to the Mountain Creek Ranch.

Tom married Lona, who was born in Alabama, but lived with her family in Hamilton County. She was 20 and he was 18 when they married. He was the first child in the Bill Cunningham family to marry, though his older sister Mollie wasn’t far behind.

Tom and Lona had their first child, Edna, about a year into their marriage. This was an era when the Cunningham family was still relatively small. Small in terms of where it ended up 100 years later, of course. Betty had quite a few grandchildren by 1890 since she was the first in the family to marry, Aaron had a few, and there were a few others, but I would expect that the birth of a grandchild would still get a little bit of notice in the family. The birth of little Edna prompted the Bill Cunningham family to have another formal family portrait taken.


That is Tom and Lona on the right and the baby in the picture is little Edna. [If you need a better copy of this picture with full IDs, just write me.]

This whole story has so many sad aspects and the first is that little Edna died before she was 6 years old. I don’t know the cause. She is buried in the Pottsville Cemetery in Hamilton County. Lona was pregnant with Bernard when Edna died. Bernard was born 4 months later in February 1896.

As you can imagine after having gone through a tragedy and losing a child, Bernard was especially dear to Tom and Lona. He was also a much-photographed boy.


When Bernard was 20, he married Annie Cathey of Hamilton.


But things get sad here again…  The couple moved to Fort Worth and before they had been married 2 full years, Annie got pneumonia and died. Heartbroken, Bernard moved back home to Hamilton and soon after enlisted in World War I.

To Be Continued…

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.