Search billions of records on


 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


William J. Cunningham

The long identification of Mr. Cunningham with Sonoma county entitles him to rank among the pioneers of this part of the state, while his intimate association with public affairs and his patriotic support of progressive enterprises place him among the leading citizens whose efforts have contributed to local upbuilding. Throughout a considerable portion of the years of his residence here he has engaged in agricultural pursuits, but more recently he has limited his activities to the management of his homestead of seven acres at Bodega, where he has resided for almost one-half century. Recognized adaptability for public service led to his selection as an officer in his township and frequently he has been put forward successfully by the Republican party as their candidate for local positions. In June, 1890, he was elected justice of the peace, and so impartial and wise did his decisions prove, that he has been retained in the position ever since, the last election, in the fall of 1910, extending his term of office to 1915. During a part of his young life he was employed in a law office and there picked up a varied knowledge of the profession that has been helpful to him in his later years. For eight years he served as road overseer and during that time he aided in the building and grading of the public highways. In addition he has served as a school trustee.

Born near Londonderry, Ireland, November 7, 1839, Mr. Cunningham was the son of Alexander Cunningham, who taught school for fifty years and was also postmaster at Corrigans, a place four miles south of Londonderry, and there it was that our subject received his education until seventeen years of age. He then entered the law office of Calhoon & Knox in Londonderry, continuing there for three years and six months. At the end of this time, when he was twenty years old, he crossed the ocean to Philadelphia, where he secured employment as a clerk in a grocery establishment. Leaving that city in 1861, he came to California via Panama, arriving in San Francisco December 26, 1861. He came to Bodega in January 1862, and has since been a resident of the locality, gaining a host of warm personal friends through his kindly disposition, genial temperament and unwavering devotion to the county's progress. Since becoming a citizen of the United States he has remained stanch in his allegiance to the Republican party and favors the principles and platform of that organization as best adapted to the national prosperity. Fraternally he was formerly a member of the Druids, joining the order about 1895, and continuing his membership until the charter was given up.

The marriage of William J. Cunningham and Alice Acker was solemnized in 1867, the bride having been born in New York state, but reared in California, whither she removed in childhood with her father, Reuben Acker, later a prominent supervisor and well-known citizen of Sonoma county. The Acker family descends from early American ancestry and its present representatives display the patriotism noticeable in every generation of the family history in this country. Seven children blessed the union of Mr. And Mrs. Cunningham and all but one are still living. Of the six survivors all are married excepting one of the sons. The wife and mother is still living and shares with her husband the regard of the friends won through years of association with the people of the locality. The six living children are S. A., Reuben, William N., A. L., Edmund J. and Jane, the latter the wife of John Parmeter, of Duncan's Mills. The highest ambition of the parents has been to train their children for positions of usefulness and honor and they have sacrificed freely in order that their family might enjoy appreciated opportunities for advancement and education.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011