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LEANDER CALVIN CUNNINGHAM
Among the earlier settlers of the southern portion of Central Texas the late Leander Calvin Cunningham held a position of note and prominence. A man of pronounced energy and ability, he became identified with the best interests of this section of the country, assisting the Texans in their struggle for liberty, and as far as in his power lay, forwarding all projects of material benefit to the state, being associated with its mercantile and manufacturing pro- gress. He was born in Tennessee in 1810, a son of James Cunningham, who was of Scotch parentage, and was probably born in Scotland. His father was for a time a resident of Tennessee, going from there to Alabama. Later in life, he came to Texas, and spent his last years in Bastrop county, dying at the advanced age of ninety years. He reared a family of six children, namely: John. Andrew, David, Leander C., Mary and Sarah.
But a small child when his parents removed to Alabama. Leander C. Cunningham was there reared and educated. As a young man he came to Texas, which was then a part of the Republic of Mexico. locating with an older brother in Bastrop county. When the Texans were driven to declare their independence, he, loyal to his adopted state, offered his services, and under the command of Gen. Sam Houston participated in the battle of San Jacinto. April 21, 1836. and was present the following day at the capture of Santa Anna. At the time that he came to this state. Indians were numerous, and not always friendly, often doing serious damage on their raids. Mr. Cunningham studied law, and having opened an office in Bastrop, practiced his profession there and in the adjoining counties for some time. His practice, however, taking him so much from home, he gave it up, and for a number of terms served as county judge of Bastrop county, later becoming a merchant.
Moving in 1860 to Alleyton, Colorado county, Mr. Cunningham erected a large warehouse, and engaged in mercantile and commission business. The Civil war soon broke out, and that town being the railway terminus became the point from which cotton, which was hauled long distances by ox teams or mule teams, was forwarded to Mexico, and was likewise the distributing place for the various kinds of merchandise brought there from Mexico. Alleyton was then, indeed, a bustling. busy mart the streets filled with people full of life and activity, and the teams continually going and coming. When the railroad was extended to Columbus. Mr. Cunningham transferred his residence and business to this place, remaining here several years. Going then to Austin, he engaged in the lumber business for a time, but when the railway was completed as far as Waelder he accepted the position of station agent at that place. Resigning that office after a few months. Mr. Cunningham established himself as a lumber manufacturer and dealer in that town, but subsequently gave that up and embarked in the furniture business, which he managed successfully until 1895. Then, at the advanced age of eighty-five years, he retired from active pursuits, removing to Seguin, where he resided until his death, a year later. Although taking great interest in the general welfare of town and county, Mr. Cunningham never sought public office, content alone to see the people around him steadily advancing socially, morally and financially. Mr. Cunningham was a leading Methodist, always foremost in all church and Sunday school affairs.
He sought not wealth nor political preferment nor the power these agencies confer. In educational enterprises he was ever active and the tree of christianity grew and flourished by his fostering care and patient endeavor. In the erection of school and church buildings in Bastrop as early, as 1848, he was influential and instrumental These buildings were of excellent architecture, substantial material and commodious proportions. The school was provided with a splendid library for the use and benefit of students, and the labratory was equipped with every mechanical contrivance then known to science that might be of use to classes requiring such assistance. A military system was put into operation and the A. and M, college of Texas is the outgrowth of this wisely and well established educational plant. The home of L C. Cunningham was a place of refuge and refreshment for ministers of all denominations. The weary itinerant having traveled far in summer's withering heat or winter's icy blasts knew where to find a cordial welcome. Though storm and darkness might prevail, the light was ever in his window to guide hither any laborer in the Lord's vineyard. His gold shod swifter and stronger feet than his own for the King's highway and his generous hand held an open purse, that was ever the pilgrim's stay.
As often as he changed his place of residence his first consideration in a new locality was the organization of a Sunday school, and his faithful attendance and excellent administration insured success in the enterprise. Where magnificent edifices now rear stately columns and point heavenward tall spires, their foundations are laid deep down in the ages when men of this type shirked no duty, nor shrunk from sacrifice. The echoes of that far-away yesterday sweeping o'er the gulf of time in melodies divinely sweet, fill perfumed space and with uplifting power inspires our souls with love and reverence for those departed heroes. who bowed before no circumstance, surrendered to no condition when in the wilderness the savage and outlaw strove for supremacy.
Mr. Cunningham married Ann Sloan, who was born near Frankfort, Ky a daughter of Brian and Nancy (King) Sloan She survived him a few years, passing away in 1895. Five children were born of their union namely: James, deceased; Carrie, wife of Jerry Walker, M. D.; Hattie, widow of the late Hon. Ibzan W. Middlebrook, of whom a brief sketch follows; M. Jennie, wife of Benjamin Baker, and Andrew D., now residing in Iowa.
A Twentieth Century History of Soutwest Texas, Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1907 pages 353-355
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