William's History

    The Gaelic spelling of William Cunningham was Uilleam Mac Cuinneagain; and his native language was Gaelic.
    William was the youngest of three children: two boys and one girl, Isabella; the oldest boy died in early childhood.  Circa 1785 William's sister, Isabella Cunningham, eloped from the Cunningham castle in Ayr, Ayrshire County, Scotland, with Andrew Squair, and was married.  She and Andrew then immigrated to the United States and settled near Charlottesville, Albermarle County, Virginia, on the James River.  That is where they were living when her brother, William, ran away from his uncle and went to join her in Albermarle County, Virginia.  Isabella and Andrew Squair had two children: Catherine and Andrew, Jr., who died after 1818, single.  Catherine Squair married John Maxwell on 4-12-1791 in Albermarle County, Virginia, and they had two children: Isabella, who married James Hamner on 12-11-1815, and Jane G., who married Stephen Triall on 9-23-1817.
    Groom: William Cunningham, born 1765 in Ayr, Ayrshire County, Scotland, died 1823 in Trigg County, Kentucky, son of III Earl of Glencairn James Cunningham and (bride's name unknown), (III Earl of Glencairn was the son of (?) Cunningham and (?) Dalrymple, daughter of Lord Hailes Sir David Dalrymple who was born
in 1655).  Bride: Nancy Elizabeth Carr, born 1770 in Albermarle County, Virginia, died 1834 in Trigg County, Kentucky, daughter of Gideon and Ann (Sandridge) Carr II.  Date of marriage 12-24-1895 in Albermarle County, Virginia.  Eleven children: 1. John "Duck"; 2. Gideon Carr; 3. William Thomas "Buck"; 4. Malinda Elizabeth;
5. Andrew; 6. Dabney Carr "Dab"; 7. James "Tank"; 8. Meekins Carr "Mickens"; 9. Alexander; 10. Robert T. "Rat"; 11. Nancy, born about 10-1818 in the Cumberland Gap, died 1830 in Trigg County, Kentucky.
    After the birth of their tenth child, William and Nancy left Virginia for Kentucky in a covered wagon pulled by oxen, stopping in the Cumberland Gap long enough for their eleventh and last child to be born; then they continued on to Trigg County, Kentucky (which was then Christian County).  They also brought their slaves with them.  Bertie said in her book that the reason that William and Nancy came to Kentucky was that there was not enough land on their farm to leave any considerable amount to each of their children, so they decided that they would leave Virginia and make their way to the new lands of Kentucky so each of their children would be able to have land of their own.  But, when I (Marqua) talked to Bertie in 1986, she said she had discovered the real reason why William had left his land and left his sister in Virginia; it was because he had taught each of his slaves to read and write and this was against the law in Virginia.  If you taught your slaves to read and write, you could lose all your property (which included your slaves who were considered only property in those days), plus you would be put in prison, leaving your family homeless and destitute.  So William packed everything and everyone up and moved to a new home in Kentucky.  They settled in the Trigg Furnace section of Trigg County which, at that time, was still a part of Christian County.  Here he set up a mill and began to cultivate corn and tobacco.  He also took time to serve in public affairs.  He was an officer in the first Trigg County election, served on the Circuit Court in 1820 and also was Road Commissioner.  He was instrumental in opening the first highway in western Trigg County. 
    William, Nancy Elizabeth and Nancy are buried in the Trigg Furnace Cemetery in Trigg County, Kentucky.
    Military Service: William Cunningham - US Army - 1792/1794 - served in the Pennsylvania Whiskey Rebellion; mounted Infantry commanded by Capt. Thomas Gillespie,
same regiment - 1784/1811 - Pvt. and Sgt. in Capt. Samuel McGraughey's Company of the Knox County Regiment of Militia.
(the following taken from a booklet given out to families
at the dedication of the original Cunningham monument
at Trigg Furnace, KY, in 1936)
    William received a very good common school education in his mother tongue.  His father was a tailor and later William was apprenticed to his father's trade.  After the completion of his common school education he was required to drill in the regular army for at least two years.  He was very much opposed to spending so much of his time in this way, so he began studying and planning a way to escape from this irksome and fruitless task. 
    About this time his uncle, his mother's brother, came to the home of William.  He told his troubles to his uncle and asked his advice as to some way of being released from the requirements of the government.  His uncle told him that he was a sailor and was soon to sail from Scotland to the United States and that he could sail with him there.  This was a very serious proposition to him, but he started thinking and planning how he could escape from home and his government before he was of age.  In a short while his uncle informed him that his ship would soon be sailing for the United States.  Then came serious times with William as he thought of home, country and friends that he must leave and would never see again, since he head made up his mind to try his fortunes in a distant land where he would be among strangers.
    The night before the ship was to sail, he wrapped up his little bundle of clothes and hid them until after all were asleep.  He then slipped out of his window and escaped from home unnoticed.  When he reached the ship he hid himself amonth the rubbish of the ship in the hull of the boat.  He remained here until they had gotten far out on the ocean; then they wouldn't go back to shore and put him off.
    After a long and tiresome journey of nearly six months, they reached the port of Norfolk, Virginia.  Now William, tired and worn with his long and tedious journey, wanted to go into the city.
    On the trip his uncle had informed hin that he wanted to make a sailor of himt.  William was as much opposed to this as he was to being a soldier.
    One day he asked his uncle to permit him to leave the ship and go in the city for a little exercise.  His uncle readily granted the request but warned him not to get lost.
    When he reached the city he did not inquire among streets but kept straight ahead until he was sure he could not be found by his uncle.  He then began to inquire about the way to Albermarle Coutny, where his sister lived.  Since there were no steam boats or railroads the traveling had to be done on foot.  After many days and nights of weary traveling he finally reached his destination.  He made his home with his sister for a number of years.
    He served in the United States army from 1792 to 1794, during the Whiskey Rebellion in Tennessee.  He then returned home and took up his old trade - tailoring.
    In 1795 he married Nancy Carr, in Albermarle County.  In a few years there wer quite a number of children to bless their home.  There wer nine boys and two girls.
    William having only a small farm, located between two rich farmers, he could not buy any land to enlarge his farm so it was necessary for him to sell and find a place large enough for his family and slaves.  They finally decided to go to West Kentucky and immediately began to move.
    In order that they might have somewhere to stay when they reached Kentucky they decided to let John, the oldest sone, take the younger boys and slaves and raise a crop at home and that William take Gideon and a negro man and go to Kentucky and make a crop of corn and build a home and a barn for horses and cows. 
    They came in the early spring of 1818 from Virginia, through the Cumberland Gap and through the State of Kentucky to Trigg County, on horse back.
    They made a small corn crop and built their house and barn that summer and returned to Virginia in the early Fall.
    Some of the neighbors came in to learn something of his western trip and plans for the future.  When he told them of his experiences and his purpose in going to Trigg County, they would also sell their farms and come with them to West Kentucky.
    In early Fall of 1818 they managed to get everything in
readiness which they desired to bring with them to their new home.
    They were delayed some time at the Cumberland Mountains as
Nancy Cunningham, the youngest child was born.  When their family
was able they resumed their travel and reached their destination late in
the Autumn of 1818.  They settled on the very spot of ground where the
old store house stands in Trigg Furnace.
    They put up a mill and did all the grinding of corn and wheat they had at that time.
    He became very busy clearing away the timber and fencing up the land for the cultivation of corn and tobacco.  He had selected his young apple, peach and cherry trees to bring with him from Virginia to Kentucky, and soon he had a fine young orchard which for fruit for nearly one hundred years.
    The early settlers about Trigg Furnace would visit him to get cider in those days.  In this, Trigg County was part of Christian County.
    William was an officer at the first election ever held in Trigg.  He was a member of the Circuit Court of Trigg County in 1920.  He was appointed by the Judge as road commissioner to open up the public roads on the west side of Trigg County.  He figured very much in the early history of the county.
    He was quite a good physician in his neighborhood as a practical doctor.  He looked after the ordinary illness of the community with good success.  He served his people to the very best of his ability from 1818 until his death in 1823.
    He left a wife and eleven children to mourn his loss.  He was buried at Trigg Furnace Graveyard near the old school house.
    Nancy Cunningham, the youngest daughter, died in 1930 at the age of twelve and was buried beside her father; and in 1834, Mrs. Wm. Cunningham died.
    The children all maarried and settled in Trigg County except Gideon who went to Tennessee and married, reared a large family and then returned to Trigg County where he spent the remainder of his life.
    The Cunningham family has outnumbered any family name in Trigg County for many years.  The children of the old set of Cunninghams settled near where they were reared, so they have become quite numerous. 
    It is thought by some to have been more than five thousand of the name now in one hundred years.
    The family has been religiously inclined and the majority of them of the Baptist persuasion.
    The ministers of the family were J.T. Cunningham, E.H. Cunningham, Jago Washer and Alfred Harris.
    The physicians are John Cunningham, Zacharia Cunningham, Cynthia Cunningham, and Hallie Watt.
    The dentists are Chastine Cunningham, Herbert Cunningham, and Paul Cunningham.
    The officers are: J. Cunningham is Circuit Judge in Texas; H. Cunningham is Commonwealth Attorney in Texas; Alfred Cunningham is Superintendant of Common Schools, also Levie Cunningham.
    The school teachers are too numerous to name.
    The magistrates are:  D. Creekmore, John Cunningham, William Cunningham, Nath Cunningham, G.L. Cunningham, and Jack Cooper.
    Politically most of them are Democrats.
    Most of the Cunningham family have contented themselves to farming and very few have aspired to any other vocation.
Will Book A, Page 48
Appraisement of the Estate of WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM, deceased.
On the motion of the Administratix of William Cunningham, deceased, it is ordered that John Mabry, Hampton Wade, Edwin Noel and Samuel Orr, or any three of them be appointed after being first duly sworn before us Magistrates to appraise the personal estate and slaves if any of said decedent in current money and report.
Pursuant to an order of the county court of Trigg county, the undersigned appraisers appointed for the purpose of appraisement of the Estate of William Cunningham, deceased, did so proceed to value the property as follow viz:
One black woman named Rachel, her child named Tilda, her other child named Dannetta, one black woman named Polly, one black boy named Dick, one black boy named Watt, one black boy named Juba, one black girl named Winney, one black girl name Cary, one black boy named Sam, one black boy name Peter, one black girl named Mariah, one black man named Charley, livestock, farm equipment, household.
Samuel Orr
Hampton Wade
John Mabry
The listed appraisement of William Cunningham's estate in 1824:
1 black boy named Kiah - $500.00
1 black woman named Rachel - $500.00
her child named Tilda - $100.00
her other child named Jennette - $50.00
1 do girl name Mariah - $350.00
1 black woman named Polly - $100.00
1 do boy named Watt - $500.00
1 do boy named Juba - $400.00
1 do boy named Charles - $400.00
1 do girl named WInney - $400.00
1 do boy named Cary - $200.00
1 do boy named Sam - $150.00
1 do boy named Peter - $100.00
1 bay horse - $45.00
1 roan horse - $25.00
1 sorrel mare - $40.00
1 sorrel colt - $20.00
1 gray mare - $50.00
8 cows at $12.00 each
1 steer brindle white - $28.00
1 steer black and white - $15.00
2 2-year old heifers- $12.00
2 yearling heifers and bull calf - $9.00
38 head hogs - $61.00
19 head sheep - $38.00
100 barrels corn - $150.00
2 fodder stack (houses) 70 ft. long $12.00
5 blade stacks and 3 stacks hay - $15.00
1 still ($35.00 cap and worm $5.00) 40 gallons - $40.00
2 scythes, 1 cooper joiner edge, crown drawing knife and hand saw - $3.50
1 ladder - $10.00
1 reap hook - $1.00
4 bedsteads and furniture and 2 bedsteads - $144.00
1 looking glass - $1.50
1 cotton wheel - $3.00
1 table - $3.00
3 dishes and 12 plates (Delft) - $4.00
1 teakettle-tea board and furniture - $2.00
1 castor bottle, 2 glass tumblers and salt cellar - $2.50
half dozen teaspoons - $0.50
2 candlesticks - $2.00 ***see note below***
6 books - $1.00
1 slate and tin base - $1.50
1 pair plates Jrom - $2.10
1 chest - $2.00
1 short gun - $5.00
1 loom , 2 slays and gears - $6.00
1 check reel - $0.75
1 Dutch oven and lid - $1.25
1 small kettle - $1.25
1 meal size kettle - $2.00
1 big kettle - $4.00
1 small kettle - $1.00
3 axes and 8 hoes - $3.00
2 pair drawing chains and 3 cleavers - $2.00
2 shovel blows - $2.00
6 old barrels - $2.50
1 pair iron wedges - $2.00
5 ducks and 10 geese - $6.25
Total - $4628.60
The pair of candlesticks that Nancy (Carr) Cunningham brought with her from Virginia.  These are listed in William's estate appraisement.  They were passed down through the family of John Cunningham.  In this photo they were in the possession of Magdalene Mize (1986)

(click photo to see full size image)

Will Book A, page 49
Nancy Cunningham, Administratix
Inventory appraisement examined and approved by Trigg County Court and ordered recorded, 19th January 1824. 
A list of the Sale of the property of William Cunningham, Deceased, 8th November 1823.
Buyers were:
Levin Oliver, Garrol Mitchel, William Jones, James Fawn, David Mitchell, John B. Harris, Thomas L. Baker, James Gray, Blake Baker, Moza Grisham, William Cooper, Benjamin Johnston, William Johnston.
The foregoing Sale of the Estate of William Cunningham, deceased, was on this day of 19th January 1824, returned unto Court and the same having been examined and approved by the Court was ordered to be recorded.

Will Cannon, Clerk


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