Hon. Theodore E. Cunningham
Hon. Theodore E. Cunningham. Probably no citizen of Lima has passed
the active scene of life within the last quarter of a century, who
possessed in higher degree the different qualities which command respect
and encourage admiration and personal affection than the late Theodore
E. Cunningham, who for many years was one of the leading members of the
bar. Few men of his profession have left a more lasting impress upon the
community. He was born October 31, 1830, in Wayne County, Ohio, and died
April 16,1889, at Lima, Ohio, age 59 years. His parents were Dr. William
and Anna (Ewalt ) Cunningham.
Mr. Cunningham came of a combination of Scotch, Irish, and French stock.
Archibald C. Cunningham, his paternal grandfather, came to Ohio in 1821
from Washington County Pennsylvania, taking up a large tract of farming
land in Wayne County. His son William turned his attention to medicine
and in January, 1832, came to Allen County, settling in the locality and
among the straggling cottages which then represented the now thriving
and important city of Lima. Here he, too, soon had a home, building his
log cabin on what is now the southeast corner of the Pubic Square. He
became a well-known practitioner and a man who was as highly considered
for his professional skill as he was for his sterling traits of
Dr. William Cunningham married Anna Ewalt, who was born in Bedford
County, Pennsylvania, being a descendant of an old Huguenot family which
once owned estates along the Rhine. Seven children were born to Dr. and
Mrs. Cunningham, three survivors of these being: Eliza, a resident of
Lima, wife of Josiah Williams; Clementine, wife of W.K. Brice, and Sarah
B., wife of George Morris, of Putnam County, Ohio.
Theodore E. Cunningham attended school at Lima until about 16 years of
age, when he was apprenticed to the printing business, entering the
office of the Kalida Venture, which was under the editorial management
of James Mackenzie. He remained three years with this journal, and then
came to Lima as associate editor of the Lima Argus, which in 1852, in
partnership with William C. Tompkinson, he bought. This paper previously
had been owned by Mathias H. Nichols and at that time was the only
newspaper printed in the town. In 1854 he retired in order to take up
his law practice, having been admitted to the bar in 1852, following the
completion of his law studies with the firm of Nichols & Waldorf. he was
succeeded on the Argus by Thomas M. Robb, who continued the paper until
1855 when Mr. Cunningham and a Mr. Poland took possession of the office.
After a year, during which period they conducted the paper under the
title of the People's Press, Mr. Cunningham retired entirely from
connection with the publication.
In the meantime he had entered into a law partnership with Mr. Waldorf, which
continued until 1860, when he was commissioned a member of the Board of
Enrollment of the Fifth District of Ohio and attended to these duties
through the period of the Civil War. In politics he was a Democrat. In
1866 he was elected a delegate to the Philadelphia convention, and in
1873 he was elected from Allen County as a member of the Ohio State
Constitutional Convention. The able manner in which he here represented
his constituents is a matter of history. He entered into political
contests with the courage of his convictions and fought long and well,
even when he foresaw defeat. He was long considered one of the ablest
members of the Lima bar, not only on account of his native ability and
intellectual force but also for other qualities. He was a man magnetic
presence, an orator who could hold his audience spellbound and a
conversationalist whose slightest effort brought new and entertaining
views to light. Then he was so genuine. When he gave the clasp of
friendship, he meant it, and even when, in course of conducting a case,
his facts and arguments bore heavily on his opponent, there was no
personal malice and no professional arrogance. He was a man of refined,
scholarly tastes, an incisive writer and a man of wide reading. To him
those in need of advice of sympathy naturally turned and, without
consideration of financial obligation, none was ever turned aside.
In 1855 Mr. Cunningham was married to Elizabeth Hyatt, of Mount Vernon,
Ohio, who died February 5, 1904, aged 72 years. To them were born six
Hon. William H. Cunningham, now filling the responsible and honorable office
of judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Allen County, is a son of Hon.
Theodore E. Cunningham, the subject of this sketch. He was first elected
to his present position in 1898 and was reelected in 1902. He has every
qualification for able work at the bar and is regarded as an honor to
the bench and bar of Lima. He is noted for the fair and impartial
decisions that have characterized his service on the common pleas bench.
Judge Cunningham read law in his father's office and was admitted to the
bar in 1876, beginning at once the practice of his profession in Lima.
He is a strong Democrat and no man in Allen County or this section of
the State stands higher in the estimation of his fellow - citizens than
he. In his fraternal relations he is a Mason, an Odd Fellow, an Elk and
a Red Man. His wife whose name before marriage was Emma L. Funk, died in
1888, leaving one son, Allen, who is now engaged in business in Texas.