Clay County

Biography - Charles S. Cunningham

The subject of this sketch occupies a prominent place in the esteem of the people of Flora and Clay county, and is universally respected and as a business man fair dealing is his watchword in all his transactions. He is optimistic, looking on the bright side of life and never complains at the rough places in the road, knowing that life is a battle in which no victories are won by the slothful, but that the prize is to the vigilant and the strong of heart.

Charles S. Cunningham, the present popular Mayor of Flora, Illinois, was born in this city, March 27, 1870, the son of John M. Cunningham, who was a native of Clay county. He was the founder of the jewelry business now conducted by our subject, which he carried on successfully until 1896, when our subject bought the business. In March of that year John M. Cunningham was called from his earthly labors. B. F. Cunningham, grandfather of the subject, was a native of Virginia, who came to Clay county when a young man and was one of the first settlers, having first located in the southern part of Clay county, called Cottonwood creek, and there engaged in the milling business. Later he came to Flora and established the Cunningham & Harter Savings Bank, which he conducted until about 1875. He died in 1876. The Cunningham family is of Scotch origin. The mother of the subject was Jennie Hawkins, whose people were also of Scotch descent, her mother and grandmother having emigrated from that country. Mrs. John M. Cunningham passed to her rest about 1875. Three children constituted this family, one of whom died in infancy; the subject's brother, Clyde L. Cunningham, lives in Julesburg, Colorado.

Charles S. Cunningham has spent all of his life in Flora, where he attended the public schools and received a good education. He went to work when eighteen years old in his father's jewelry store, and has been identified with the same ever since. He long ago mastered every detail of the business and is one of the leading jewelers of this part of the state, having a modern and nicely furnished store, and an excellent and carefully selected stock.

Mr. Cunningham was united in marriage in 1890 to Eva L. Jackson, the daughter of John Jackson, of Allegan, Michigan, and to this union two sons have been born, Rexford J. and Charles J., whose ages at this writing are fifteen and twelve, respectively. They are attending school and making excellent progress in their studies.

Mr. Cunningham has figured somewhat conspicuously in the political affairs of Flora and was first elected City Treasurer in which capacity he ably served for two years. He was then Alderman for two years, and in the spring of 1907, he was elected Mayor of Flora, and he has given the city a very economical administration, managing its affairs with as much care as he does his individual business. He has been vigorous in his fight against illegal liquor selling, the saloons having been voted out when he was elected. In many ways he has benefited the community in a lasting and material way. At the present time plans and specifications are making for a system of water works, and Mayor Cunningham is very much interested in securing this for the city.

The subject has won definite success in the financial world through his close application to business and his honorable methods. He is a director and vice-president in the First National Bank, also a director in the Breese-Trenton Coal Mining Company, the head offices of the company being in St. Louis. He is also a director in the Friend Telephone Company, of Flora. Fraternally he is a member of the Flora Lodge No. 204, of Masons, also the Ben Hur and the Knights of Pythias. He is a member of the Methodist church as is also Mrs. Cunningham. Mayor Cunningham is a member of the Illinois State Historical Society of Springfield, and in politics he is a Republican, always taking an active interest in his party's affairs. His fearlessness in the discharge of his duties and his appreciation of the responsibilities that devolve upon him are such as to make him a most acceptable incumbent of the Mayor's office, and his worth is widely acknowledged, while his record as a business man has been so honorable that he has gained the confidence and trust of all with whom he has been brought in contact.

Extracted 27 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay & Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 243-244.

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