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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - J. W. Cunningham

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878


JUDGE J. O. CUNNINGHAM was born in Lancaster, Erie county, New York, December 12th, 1830, and is the eldest child of Hiram N. and Eunice (BROWN) CUNNINGHAM. Mrs. Cunningham was a member of the Brown family of Vermont. Her grandfather erected and carried on the first carding and fulling mill in the then Colony of Vermont, prior to the revolutionary war. Hiram was descended from the Cunningham family, of Connecticut, who settled there in the latter half of the seventeenth century. His ancestors bore a patriotic part in the struggle for American liberty. As a family, they have distinguished themselves for their integrity and purity of character, as well as for their intellectual and moral culture. Hiram Cunningham, when a lad, removed, with his parents, in 1810, to what was known as the "Holland Purchase," Erie county, New York. Here his days were spent on a farm, until he attained his majority, when he removed to Huron county, O., and engaged in farming. He continued to reside in that county until his death, which occurred in 1866. J. O. Cunningham, when a boy, had such opportunities for acquiring an education as the district schools of the neighborhood afforded. When about the age of nineteen, he became a student of the Baldwin Institute, at Berea, Ohio, and subsequently matriculated at Oberlin College. During a portion of the collegiate years he taught school, and in the fall of 1852 removed to Vermilion county, Indiana, and taught a school at Eugene. There he began the study of law. He became a resident of Urbana, Illinois, June 18th, 1853, and soon after purchased the Urbana Union, it being the first and only paper published in Champaign county at that time. In 1859, he graduated at the Union Law College at Cleveland, Ohio, and on the first of day of May the same year he became a partner of Judge Sim in the practice of his profession. That partnership lasted five years. In 1861, Mr. Cunningham was elected county judge, the duties of which office he discharged with ability for one term of four years. In 1867, he was appointed, by Governor Oglesby, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Industrial University, and served very efficiently until 1873. After his judicial term expired, he resumed more fully the practice of his profession. In 1869, he became a partner with W. B. Webber, Esq., in the practice of the law, which partnership continued until 1876. In politics, the Judge was formerly a member of the Republican party. In 1874, he became a Greenbacker, and is now identified with the National party. He was married October 13th, 1853, to Miss Mary McCONOUGHEY, daughter of Colonel Porter D. McCONOUGHEY, of Bainbridge, Granger county, Ohio. They are both members of the M. E. Church.

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