1st Lt. David Richard Reynolds Camp, SCV, Mount Pleasant, Texas


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Captain John Cunningham
Company G, 4th Kentucky Mounted Infantry Regiment
1st Kentucky Brigade
Army of Tennessee

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Dr. John Cunningham was born in Trigg county, Ky., on September 21, 1836. He was educated in the common schools of the state and at Bethel College, Russellville, Ky. He later studied medicine and took his medical degree at a medical college in St. Louis. In 1873, he received a second degree from the Galveston (Texas) Medical College.

John’s Grandfather, William Cunningham was a Scottish immigrant and fought in the Whiskey Rebellion. His Grandmother was Nancy Carr, of the Virginia Carr’s, life-long friends of Thomas Jefferson. Nancy’s brother Dabney married Thomas Jefferson’s sister, Martha. Three of John’s Grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary War.

In 1820, John’s Grandparents were some of the first settlers through the Cumberland Gap and settled in western Kentucky.

When the War Between the States broke out he volunteered and helped to organize Company C of the 4th Kentucky Mounted Infantry and elected as 1st Lieutenant, and eventually to Captain. His company was a part of General John Breckenridge’s brigade which besides other severe engagements, fought two days at the battle of Shiloh, He was in command of a company under General Albert Sidney Johnston. He also served as surgeon in the Confederate army to General Wheeler, then with General Bragg. He was stationed at Lookout Mountain. He was captured by the Federals and kept a prisoner at Nashville, Tennessee for a time, then at Camp Chase in Ohio and then in Fortress Monroe, Virginia.

He moved to Fannin County in 1867, a penniless tramp, without friends or family. He walked from Jefferson to Kentuckytown (now in Grayson County) and settled near Ravenna where for many years he engaged in the practice of medicine. He belonged to the old school of physicians known as "saddle bag doctors." Like others of these faithful old ministers to the ills of humanity, the weather was never too hot or too cold or too wet for him to heed the call of the sick, regardless of whether he was ever to receive pay or only thanks. It was his conception of duty to go to the relief of all suffering, who needed it. It was their need and not his and that appealed to him. He owned several farms in that section. He had served as Road Overseer, school trustee, Alderman and Mayor of Ravenna, Texas.

Dr. Cunningham told a story about how Ravenna received its name. According to him, it fell to his lot to make application to Washington, D.C. for a post office and because of the ravines in that area the name of “Ravinia” was chosen. Dr. Cunningham said, “Due to my miserable handwriting, the name came back as “Ravenna” and has remained “Ravenna” ever since.”

“Dr. Cunningham is one of the links which bind us to a glorious past. He is an affable gentleman, ripe with honors, experience and wisdom, and his devotion to principle and duty as a member of the 27th legislature is but a continuation of his life history which has so endeared him to his people.” Dr. John Cunningham’s name appears on the Confederate monument on the Fannin County courthouse square, as chairman of the committee which made the monument possible. He wrote many articles for the “Confederate Veteran” Magazine, as well as a correspondent (Old Roustabout) for many years, for the Bonham News.

In spite of his other activities, Dr. Cunningham gave unsparingly of his time to his country. He served in the thirteenth, twenty-seventh, twentieth-eighth, thirty-third and thirty-fourth sessions of the Texas Legislature, his last campaign being made after he was crippled and confined to a wheelchair. He was the last Confederate Soldier to serve in the Texas Legislature. He always took an active interest in all public affairs.

Dr. Cunningham was twice married. His first wife was a Miss Patterson, whom he married in Kentucky. One son B. B. Cunningham, of Savoy, Texas was born to this union. After her death he married Miss Fannie Agnew of Fannin county, who survives him. Three children born to them survive, namely Judge H. A. Cunningham, of Bonham, Mrs. Annie Spaugher, of Pauls's Valley, Okla. And W. E. Cunningham, of Duncan, Ok.

For many years Dr. Cunningham had been a member of the Masonic fraternity, and order which he held in the highest honor and in the greatest esteem. For more than thirty five years he had been an active member of the Christian church and had lived a life that was in keeping with the teaching of the religion of Christ. For half a century Dr. John Cunningham had been one of the outstanding figures of this county, and a physician, as a legislator, as a citizen interested in every good work that would advance the better interests of the county, state and nation, he labored faithfully and intelligently. While he was a man of decided convictions, he was never dictatorial, never dogmatic, never intolerant, but was ready to grant freedom of opinion to others equal to what he claimed for himself. His disposition was that of peacemaker, rather than of the aggressive fighter, though he knew not what it was to surrender his convictions. He was one of the most useful citizens to the community in which he lived, one of the best servants of the people, of his county, one of the truest friends of humanity and a faithful servant of his God. To him was given length of years and strength of mind and body, and he used his talents not in a selfish way, but as a benefit to his fellowmen. His influence for good has long been felt, and it shall live on now that his body has gone to mingle with the dust from which it was created.

His children may well honor and cherish the memory of a worthy father, and his friends forget not his many virtues and his unselfish ministrations.

Dr. John Cunningham