From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and
Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing
Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 416-417, a reprinted by Stevens
Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County
Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
James Cunningham, a prosperous farmer and stockman of township
17 north, range 9 west, living near Philadelphia, Illinois, was born
near Edinburgh, Scotland, May 10, 1825. He comes of a family of sturdy
honest yeomanry, whose ancestors have been of that bold, upright class
which has infused new energy into the sluggish veins of his country.
His paternal grandfather was a baker in the British army, during the
Revolutionary war. The parents of the subject of this sketch were John
and Ellen (Taylor) Cunningham, both of them natives of bonny Scotland.
In 1832, the first great sorrow fell upon the little family, when the
devoted mother died, leaving six small children to the care of the
bereaved father. Soon afterward, the father went alone to the United
States, and worked for about three years, at his trade of a miller, in
Oswego and Buffalo, New York. He then returned to his native country,
where he was soon afterward remarried; and in 1836, together with his
wife and six children, he again emigrated to the United States. After a
voyage of five weeks they arrived in New York city whence they went up
the Hudson river to the Erie canal, via which they arrived at Buffalo,
New York. Thence they went by lake to Cleveland, Ohio, whence they
staged across the country to the Ohio river, and then, by boat down to
St. Louis and up the Illinois river, traveling all the time from May 10
until July 4, when they arrived at Beardstown, Cass county, Illinois,
after an entire journey of fifty five days, across an ocean and
half-way across the American continent. In Cass county, near Virginia,
his father purchased a small farm, on which he erected a log cabin, in
which he and his family resided, in pioneer fashion, until his father's
death, two years later, in October, 1838. His father was a man of great
uprightness of character, generous-hearted and cordial in manner, and
left many friends and well wishers to mourn his untimely death.
Two of the six children who accompanied their parents to America
have since died. Six children were by the first marriage and two by the
second. Of the first family, Margaret was the eldest, who married
Martin Hoagland, and died in middle life, near Jacksonville, Illinois,
leaving a family; Jeannette married Robert Taylor, a Scotchman by birth
and a well-to-do farmer in the Sangamon valley; the third in order of
birth is the subject of this sketch; Thomas, married is a farmer near
Virginia, Illinois; Archibald, married, died at Sugar Grove some twenty
years ago, leaving one child; John is a farmer in Missouri; Marian, now
Mrs. Jacobs, is the sole survivor of the second family, the other child
having died in infancy.
The subject of this notice landed in America on his eleventh
birthday, and accompanied his parents to the little farm in Cass
county, Illinois. Here he continued his education at the subscription
schools of his district, having previously attended school in his
native country. His father's death, however, put an end to all further
leisure for self-culture, and a year after this sad event our subject
was bound out to a neighbor, Stephen Lee, by whom he was reared to
manhood. He then worked for a number of years in a steam saw and grist
mill in Sugar Grove, in which he, later, bought a half interest, and
finally purchased the entire property. This he continued to operate, in
connection with his farm, for seven or eight years, when, in 1866, he
sold his mill and bought his present farm, where he has since resided.
This consists of 280 acres of choice agricultural land, owned by Mr.
Cunningham and his son, who also operate eighty acres of leased land.
This land is usually devoted to grain, but a great many hogs are also
grown for market.
In October, 1856, Mr. Cunningham married Miss Sarah Elizabeth
Hopkins, a native of Indiana, who came to Illinois with her parents,
Henry and Elizabeth Hopkins, when she was only two years of age. Mr.
and Mrs. Cunningham have two children: Henry, born in July, 1857, is
unmarried, and manages his father's farm; Dorotha Ellen, born in
October, 1858, married F. C. Fox, a prosperous farmer and cattle
feeder, who lives near by.
Mr. Cunningham was originally a Whig in politics, but has been a
Republican since the organization of that party. His constituents have
shown their appreciation of his worth by electing him to the position
of Trustee of his township, which office he has held for twenty years,
serving with integrity and ability.
Mrs. Cunningham is an earnest and useful member of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, and although Mr. Cunningham is a non-professor of
religion yet he gives liberally of his means to the support of the
gospel and other religious and benevolent movements.
Thus, unaided, Mr. Cunningham has attained, by his industry and
honesty, not only a competence for himself and family, but has been
able to donate to others less fortunate than himself, all of which has
endeared him to his community and left his impress on many an honest