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CUNNINGHAM, Benjamin F. & Samuel

Biography of Benjamin F. CUNNINGHAM [brother of Samuel]
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 1246-1247

Benjamin F. CUNNINGHAM occupies a beautiful home one mile south of Rockford, which is charmingly located on a rise of ground which commands an extended view up and down the [Rock] river.  It is in fact one of the most pleasant homes in Winnebago County [IL], and our subject has brought it to its present condition, as when he located here there were but few improvements on the place.  He is one of the pioneers of the county and has given the best efforts of his life to agricultural pursuits, and as a reward of his industry, has a splendid estate in Rockford Township.

Born 03 Feb 1820 in Peterboro, Hillsboro County, NH, our subject is a son of James and Sarah M. CUNNINGHAM.  Benjamin F. resided in Peterboro until 1839, when he came to IL, starting in April, and arriving in Winnebago Countywhen Rockford contained only a few buildings, the most of them constructed of logs.  Our subject joined his brother, Isaac N. CUNNINGHAM, who resided on a claim about one mile west of the town, and made his home with him for a year, when he returned to the parental roof and remained until two years after his marriage.  Mr. CUNNINGHAM then settled on his farm on section 6, which he sold lin 1850, and the succeeding year lived on his brother's farm, during which time he purchased property in what is now Winnebago Township.  Residing there for a period of three years, our subject on account of failing health moved into the city, and in 1858 went to CA via the Isthmus, the journey consuming 28 days from NY to San Francisco.  The first year he was unable to do any kind of work, and when partially regaining his health, engaged in teaming from Sacramento to the mines, a distance of about 100 miles.  Mr. CUNNINGHAM remained in CA two years, and on returning to IL, made his home for a year in Rockford, then traded his property for a farm near Pecatonica, and was there engaged in cultivating the soil until the spring of 1868, when he sold out and spent a few months in Rockford.  The following year he located on the farm where he at present resides.  In 1870 he made a second trip to CA in search of health, and returned a year later somewhat improved, but the climate here not agreeing with him, in the fall of 1873 he again went West and resided for six years.

On 14 Mar 1844 the original of this sketch was married to Clarissa J. MANDEVILLE, who was born in Somerset, Cayuga County, NY, 01 Apr 1822.  Her father, Michael MANDEVILLE, was a native of Cayuga County, where his father, Jacob MANDEVILLE [p 1247], as far as is known, was also born.  The grandfather was a farmer and spent his last years in the town of Sennett [Cayuga County, NY].  The father of Mrs. CUNNINGHAM was married in NY, and resided in Cayuga County until 1824, when he removed to Genesee County and purchased a tract of timber land on a small clearing, where he made his home for two years.  Going to Darien [Genesee County, NY], Mr. MANDEVILLE purchased property and operated a grist mill, tannery, and shoe factory.  He lived there until 1839 and then came to IL, being accompanied by his wife and five children.  The father rented a farm one year near Rockford, then bought a tract of land in the same township, on which he erected a log house and lived until the spring of 1841.  Later removing to Rockford, he lived retired until his decease.  His wife was, prior to her marriage, Elsie COREY, a native of Sennett, NY, and the daughter of James and Sarah COVEY; her decease occurred in Rockford.

One daughter, Jennie E., has been born to Mr. and Mrs. CUNNINGHAM, and makes her home with her parents at the present writing [1892].

Biography of Samuel CUNNINGHAM [brother of Benjamin F.]
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 362-364

Samuel CUNNINGHAM is a man widely known for his integrity, honesty, and uprightness, always contributing liberally to every good cause and striving to suppress evil.  He is at present residing on a splendid farm, pleasantly located two miles northwest of the city [Rockford], in Rockford Township, which is supplied with the most practical modern machinery.

Our subject was born in Peterboro, Hillsboro County, NH, 15 Aug 1815, and is a son of James CUNNINGHAM, who was also a native of that place, as was also his father, James CUNNINGHAM, Sr.  The great grandfather of our subject, Thomas CUNNINGHAM, was born in the North of Ireland, of Scotch parents, and on emigrating to America settled in Londonderry [Rockingham County], NH.  He later removed to Peterboro, about 1735, where he was one of the earliest settlers.  He secured a tract of timber land in the southern part of the town and made that place his home until his decease, after having reared a family of three sons and three daughters.

The grandfather of our subject was reared to [p 363] farming pursuits, which calling he followed throughout his entire life.  He became the owner of a tract of timber land, located one mile from the old homestead, which he cleared and improved, making his home there until his decease.  He was widely and favorably known in the community and wa a patriot of the Revolutionary War.  The maiden name of his wife was Sarah NAY, who, as far as is known, was also born in Peterboro.  She became the mother of a family of five sons and two daughters, and departed this life on the old home farm.

The direct progenitor of our subject remained with his parents until reaching mature years, when he went to ME, making that state his home for a time, and on returning to Peterboro, lived on the old homestead until 1838.  In that year he came West to Winnebago County [IL], and purchased a claim four miles from Rockford.  He later entered a tract from the Government, which he improved and resided upon for a number of years, when, moving to Rockford, he purchased a home on what is now the site of the Second Congregational Church, and there resided until his death.  The maiden name of the mother of our subject was Sarah Morrison CUNNINGHAM.  She came West to Winnebago County in 1839, and surviving her husband a few years, died at the home of her son, Benjamin F.

The five sons included in the parental family were Isaac N., James P., Thomas, Samuel, William, and Benjamin F.  Isaac N. came to Winnebago County in 1836, and was the second Sheriff of the county; he departed this life in Rockford.  James P. is a graduate of Bowdoin College, and for a number of years practiced medicine at Huntsville [Madison County], AL; he is also deceased, departing this life at Peterboro [Hillsboro County], NH, when in his 29th year.  Thomas located at Manchester, Coffee County, TN, where his decease occurred.  William went to CA in 1852, and is at the present time residing in San Francisco.  Benjamin F. is a prominent resident of Rockford Township.

Samuel CUNNINGHAM was reared and educated in his native town [Peterboro, Hillsboro County, NH], and remembers distinctly when there were no railroads near his home, and Boston, which was the nearest market, was 60 miles away.  He remained under the parental roof until reaching his 16th year, at which time he commenced clerking in an hotel.  Later he was engaged in driving a stage from Keene [Cheshire County, NH] to Boston, and in 1839, desiring to learn more of the Western country, came to IL, where he was met at Chicago by his brother, William, who with his team conveyed them to Winnebago County.  At that time Rockford was little more than a hamlet, and the surrounding country was owned mostly by the Government.  Deer and wild game were plentiful, and prairie chickens and quail would often come to the door of their cabin to be fed.  Mr. CUNNINGHAM lived with his father, who had also come to this county, for two years, and then purchased a tract of Government land in what is now Winnebago Township.  There he erected a good frame house, improved the land, and resided there until 1863, when he disposed of his estate and purchased the old homestead of his father.  He made that place his home for the succeeding 13 years, when he also disposed of it and became the owner of the place where he is at present residing.

On 12 Jun 1839 our subject was married to Emily CUTTER, who was born in Goshen, Sullivan County, NH, 24 Feb 1816.  She was the daughter of John CUTTER, who was born in Cheshire County, NH, 31 Oct 1788.  His father, also named John CUTTER, was born at Woburn [Middlesex County], MA, 16 Apr 1765, and was married to Abigail DEMARY, of Rindge [now in Cheshire County, NH; Cheshire was an original NH county, but was not formed until 1769], who was the daughter of John and Rebecca (CORNEILLE) DEMARY, both of whom were natives of Boston and of French parentage.  The grandfather of Mrs. CUNNINGHAM removed from MA to Jaffrey [Cheshire County], NH, in 1789.  He was a leading member of the Universalist Church at that place, where he passed the remainder of his life.   The father of Mrs. CUNNINGHAM learned the trade of a tanner from his father, and after his marriage removed to Goshen, where, in addition to carrying on his trade, he operated a farm.  He departed this life on 05 Feb 1829.  Mrs. CUNNINGHAM's mother in girlhood was Betsey CROSBY, a native of Jaffrey and the daugher of Captain Alpheus and Elizabeth (GILMORE) CROSBY.  She survived her husband for [p 364] a number of years, and died at Plymouth [Grafton County], NH.  Mrs. CUNNINGHAM was 12 years old on the death of her father, and was then taken into the home of an uncle.   She commenced teaching school at the age of 21 years, which profession she followed until her marriage.

Two sons have been born to our subject and his estimable wife:  James C., who was born 21 Nov 1848, and died in his 19th year; and John A., who was born 27 Aug 1851, and died in his 27th year; he had married Elizabeth HOLLENBECK, and was the father of two children, John Clement and Katie Emily, the latter of whom is deceased.  In politics our subject is a Republican, voting the Whig ticket previous to the formation of that party.  In official matters, he served as Assessor of Winnebago County for 13 years, and was Supervisor for two terms.  In 1844 he was elected a member of the Board of County Commissioners, and in every position fulfilled the duties imposed upon him in a most creditable manner.

Submitted by Cathy Kubly.