Cunningham Family

The Cunningham family has been very difficult to trace. This is probably due to the fact that much of our information was shared with us orally through Mary Cunningham, wife of Thomas B. Olin. Mary was born with a cleft palate and there was some concern in those times that this was an inherited trait and would be passed down. To my knowledge this was never true.

Mary said that she was adopted by Frank Cunningham but didn’t mention her mother’s name. Mary was quite young when her parents died and I’m sure her memories were not entirely accurate as to be expected. Mary was born with a cleft palate and there was some concern in those times that this was an inherited trait and would be passed down. To my knowledge this was never true. New information has been discovered with the help of DNA and now we believe that Andrew R. Cunningham and Eliza Clemons were her parents as they both died young leaving a family. When the parents died, the children were farmed out and she was sent to live with a Mrs. Martin who did not treat her kindly and she ran away at 8 years old to live with her sister Lil. At his point, it’s entirely possible that her brother Frank did in fact adopt her. We have a picture of Mrs. Martin, so I believe Mary did live with her. Recently we have found through DNA matches that Mary’s parents were Andrew R. Cunningham and his wife Elizabeth M. Clemons. They both died in 1854 which gibes perfectly with the early deaths. Below is a list of the children I believe they had.

  • Martha C. (Charlotte?) “Lottie” Cunningham was born about 1844 in Michigan, married John S. Norris (born 1859) and died at the home of Mr. Cunningham on April 19, 1919 in Bossburg, Stevens, Washington. (Frank Cunningham). She gave birth to 5 children but only 2 survived by the 1910 census. Mary’s granddaughter, Lottie Gallagher, was named after Lottie.
  • Edward Cunningham — There is an Edward Cunningham, age 13 living with George and Mary Mattison in Kalamo, Eaton, Michigan in the 1860 US Federal Census.
  • Mary Louisa Cunningham was born August 18, 1849 in Ceresco, Calhoun Cty, MI. She married Thomas B. Olin.
  • Frank Cunningham — Mary named one of her sons Frank.
  • Henry Cunningham — There is a picture of a young man in a Civil War uniform who resembles Mary’s son, Willard (see below). There are notes that a brother was killed in the war. Mary named one of her sons Henry.
  • Lillie Cunningham — At some point Mary ran away from Mrs. Martin and went to live with her sister Lillie.

According to the 1850 Michigan census, in the household of Andrew R. Cunningham (32) and his wife, Eliza M. (28) are Martha C. age 5, Edward, Age 3, Mary L. age 1, and a John Heart age 45. Martha “C” is Lottie as the age is about right. Our Mary L. Cunningham was born in 1849, so that date is correct for her also. Andrew Sr. was born in Kentucky.


“United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 29 October 2015), Mary L Cunningham in household of Andrew R Cunningham, Bellevue, Eaton, Michigan, United States; citing family 124, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). Washington, Select Death Certificates, 1907-1960 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Original data: Washington, Death Certificates, 1907-1960. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Tacoma Ward 2, Pierce, Washington; Roll: T624_1663; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0225; FHL microfilm: 1375676

Year: 1860; Census Place: Kalamo, Eaton, Michigan; Roll: M653_542; Page: 834; Image: 338; Family History Library Film: 803542

Last Updated on May 29, 2021 by rootie