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Month: November 2005

Scottish Clans in My Family’s History

Posted in Genealogy and History

About seven or eight years ago, when I first began working on my family history in earnest, I discovered that much of my heritage is Scottish. My paternal grandfather was mostly German, but my other three grandparents each had some Scottish background. I am not sure about my paternal grandmother — I found a census record this year that throws into doubt whether she was born a Campbell or was adopted by a stepfather named Campbell, but until I have proof otherwise, I’ll take her word for it.

My paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Campbell. The Campbells were and are a prominent clan in Scotland. Of course, as I noted, she may have been adopted, but even if she wasn’t, her last name may have been. Not everyone with the name Campbell can truly trace lineage back to the clan, because many people not of that clan took the name. However, my grandmother was born in Kentucky. The Campbells were a Highland clan, and many Highlanders emigrated to America and settled in North Carolina following the Battle of Culloden. It stands to reason, given popular migration routes, that some Highland Campbells might have moved west to Kentucky. The Campbells might be best known for their infamous slaughter of the Clan McDonald in the Glen Coe Massacre. You can learn more about authentic Campbell tartans from the Clan Campbell Society of North America.

My mother’s maiden name is Cunningham, which is derived from a Lowland clan in Ayrshire. The Cunningham Clan has been dormant since 1796 with the death of the last chief. Family legend states that the Cunninghams in my family came to America from Ireland. Cunningham is indeed derived from either Ireland or Scotland, so it may be that my Cunninghams are not affiliated with the Cunningham Clan, either.

My great-great-great-grandmother was Mary Elizabeth Kennedy ¹. Genealogy research in the family, based on the memoirs of David Kennedy (1768-1837), a prominent member of the Kennedy family, and my gggggg-grandfather, indicated that the Kennedys came to America from Scotland via Ireland. According to David Kennedy’s family Bible: “My great grandfather was from Scotland by the name of Alexander. He fled from that country in the time of the great rebellion [that would be the rebellion of 1715 in protest over bringing George I to the throne rather than the Stuart Pretender] to Ireland.” David Kennedy’s Bible records are fairly comprehensive and have been of great help to genealogists.

My great-great-great-grandmother was Sarah Elizabeth Graham ². I can trace my Graham lineage with some degree of certainty to Sarah Elizabeth Graham’s father, Gideon Graham. One resource states that Gideon Graham may have been one-half Cherokee — the research supposedly proving this exists, but I have not physcially obtained it. It is curious that he would be living in Indian Territory so very early if he had no Native American ancestry — at least as early as 1838, as he married there at that time. I do not know whether it was his mother or father who was Cherokee. If it was, indeed, his father, then it would seem he took the name Graham rather than was born with it, thus this particular clan wouldn’t be a part of my family’s history; however, I can’t be sure. His mother’s lineage is seemingly more sure than his father’s, which would tend to lend credence to the notion that his father was Cherokee; however, it would have been highly irregular for a white woman of that time to marry a full-blooded Cherokee — the alternative is much more likely. It is my hunch that he is not of Cherokee ancestry at all, though I will admit that my great-grandmother, Lucille Willis, has some Native American features. This thread at the Graham Family Genealogy Forum seems to indicate that at some point, a false genealogy was concocted for the Graham family. I have found some research that ties Gideon to John Graham and Mary Pennington of North Carolina. The Graham Clan in Scotland were Jacobites, and it stands to reason that they emigrated to North Carolina with other fallen Jacobites after 1746.

In terms of my Scottish lineage, the clan that seems most surely a part of my family’s history (based on research, both my own and that of others) is the Clan Kennedy. Records from David Kennedy’s family Bible indicate a link to the Kennedys of Ayrshire. If this link is proven, it connects eventually to Robert the Bruce through his Stewart descendants. Learning about my family’s history has awakened an interest in Scottish history that might not have been, had I not discovered links such as these. Whether they are actually historically accurate and provable or not, I am thankful for all I’ve learned about history through researching genealogy.

¹ My lineage to my first link to the Kennedy family is traced:

Dana Michelle Swier (me)
Patti Jo Cunningham (mother)
Udell Oliver Cunningham (grandfather)
Herman Cunningham (great-grandfather)
Stella Ophelia Bowling (great-great-grandmother)
Mary Elizabeth Kennedy (great-great-great-grandmother)

² My lineage to my first link to the Graham family is traced:

Dana Michelle Swier (me)
Patti Jo Cunningham (mother)
Doris LaNell Thurman (grandmother)
Lucille Inez Willis (great-grandmother)
Melvina Meeks (great-great-grandmother)
Sarah Elizabeth Graham (great-great-great-grandmother)

Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 16

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, Letters, and Primary Sources: Letters, Documents, Diaries, Histories

Halloween is coming soon. The Halloween that occurred when I was a kid was different from the social event of today. We did the trick part, but the treat didn’t happen at all. Our main trick was tipping over the outhouse, trashing the place in general. Teachers and principals bore the brunt of our meanness. One year we even put a horse-drawn wagon on top of the school house. I don’t know how the kids were able to put a wagon on the schoolhouse because they had real problems getting it down. Another time we put a snake in a teacher’s desk. Real inspirational things — but no treats.

Another stupid thing was taking a shoe box, filling it with barnyard droppings. Then wrap the box in brown paper and place it beside the road. We would be hidden nearby to see the unsuspecting finder unwrap their finding. Big fun. I heard that one such prankster put a wildcat in a box. This time… about a hundred yards down the road all four doors slung open and the car ran into the ditch. And we thought we were having fun.

When I was a kid we could go to the movie for a dime. When you were 12 years you had to pay adult fare of 25¢. Boy there was sure a lot of eleven-year-old kids in those days.

Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 15

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, Letters, and Primary Sources: Letters, Documents, Diaries, Histories

When [we] were stationed in France, Doris [my grandmother, Udell’s wife] had to carry a “French I.D. card.” She even had to carry it when she hung clothes on the line. If caught without it she was subject to arrest and [would be] jailed. The only amazing thing about this card is that it was required of all American women over 16 and French prostitutes! The card didn’t identify which category you were. The French tried to force the Canadians to this indignity, but the Canadian general told them where they could stick it.

And then I get orders to Wiesbaden, Germany and that my family should stay in France as I would have base quarters within a month. One of the items on my base clearance was to visit the French cmdr. office to return the I.D. card to the French. I told them my wife was not leaving France and needed to keep the card. It was a standoff until I told those Frogs [sorry — that was the term he used!] I was going to call HQ USAFE and tell the Inspector General of the trouble. They went ahead and cleared me by exacting my solemn promise that we would drive by when I returned for my family. I still have the card! Well, Wayne [my uncle, Udell’s son] has it. The Frogs deny the existence of this card, but I have one.

Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 14

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, Letters, and Primary Sources: Letters, Documents, Diaries, Histories

When I was a toddler Dad had to tighten the bearings on his ’28 Chevy. Well, when finished it was too tight for the starter to start the motor. They needed to get it out of the driveway to the street where they could pull it and get it going. We were hand-pushing it out to the street. There was a ditch by the sides of the road and when they almost had the front end on the level road the truck rolled back into the ditch area. I was shoving on the front fender, fell down, and the truck ran over me. We never went to a doctor, but I couldn’t walk for a long time. Mom pulled me everywhere in a little red wagon. I finally walked again. For some reason I was X-rayed after retirement and the doctors asked me when I broke the bones in my foot. I told them I had never broken my foot. They showed me on the X-ray — I guess that happened way back when I was about four years old. Back in those days you never went to the doctor unless you had money. We never had money. I saw my first doctor when I went into the military in 1943. When I went to school I needed eyeglasses to read the stuff on the blackboard. The teachers would allow you to move around the room so you could read the blackboards. I got my first glasses at age 17 when I saved enough money to get them at Plainview [Texas].

Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 13

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, Letters, and Primary Sources: Letters, Documents, Diaries, Histories

While on Attu I had horse-traded for a clarinet! Later a soldier stationed on Shemya (island near Attu) wanted it and traded me a Jap officer’s class book/diary. It was a hardback book made for officer training with many pictures of all the Japs in his class with much about his training — then the last of the book was blank where he had wrote about his military life. He was a very good artist and had lots of illustrations. Anyway, about a week before coming home someone stole the book. I couldn’t report the theft because I was supposed to turn over such intelligence for their [superior officers’, government] use. I sure wish I had it now. I strongly suspected a so-called buddy from Forth Worth of stealing it.

I had a buddy on Attu named Richard E. Cook. He and I were very close buddies. He went to Montana State University and even said he enrolled me there too and reserved a place for me in the dorm. Well, I went to Texas Tech instead. He studied Chemical Engineering and later got a job with Dow Chemical at Midland, Michigan. He was in charge of the factory making Saran Wrap. I should have went north to study.

Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 12

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, Letters, and Primary Sources: Letters, Documents, Diaries, Histories

On December 7, 1941, we (Mom, Dad, Alvin, me, and Flois) were visiting Uncle Clint and Aunt Ethel at Tulia, Texas. The Bells were moving to California, and this was sort of a last family reunion. The Kurths were there from Minnesota and the Hearns from Pueblo [Colorado]. I don’t recall if the Jennings brothers Frank and Lee were there or Nina. [My grandfather is referring to the families of his mother’s sisters — Bells, Kurths, and Hearns — and her brothers — Jennings; Nina was his father’s sister.] We were stunned at the news of the attack of Pearl Harbor. All us boys just knew it would be a very short war, as all we had to do was start a fire and all the Japs’ towns would burn down. Yeah, sure.

Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 11

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, Letters, and Primary Sources: Letters, Documents, Diaries, Histories

I rode a bicycle to school when I was in high school. The school was on the west side of town. I can still remember when we would have those terrible dust storms — always from the southwest. Many days the wind and dirt were so furious that I didn’t have to peddle the bike to get home. Strictly wind power!

Back in the Depression days the Beacon newspaper formed this jigsaw puzzle club. You had to bring a puzzle and could check out another. This was welcome relief for the long evenings.

I joined a “French harp” band when in grade school. Yeah, I know the correct name is harmonica. At that time a Hohner harmonica cost 50¢. I think there were at least 50 people in the group. No, we didn’t have a kazoo band.

Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 10

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, Letters, and Primary Sources: Letters, Documents, Diaries, Histories

Back when I was in grade school we (grades 1-7) were assembled in the auditorium about once a month for programs. Usually announcements, safety rules, and sometimes some entertainment. At one such assembly, it was normal and then the principal Cannon Blount led this girl out on the stage, bent her over his lap, and whipped her with a large stick. I do not know what his so-called excuse was — but I was extremely shocked, revolted, and disgusted. I have remembered this event to this day. I think this event will never cease to disgust me. I remember this girl as nice, quiet, and from an extremely poor family. I cannot find any reason possible to give the principal the right to so humiliate that girl. I don’t know if Texas allows such to go on now.

This same principal was my teacher in the seventh grade math. One day I used the dastardly word “ain’t.” He jumped up from his desk and said, “Udell, go to that dictionary in the back of the room and don’t return to your seat until you find the word ‘ain’t.'” Well, he thought I would be there forever, but I was in the seat in about a minute. He really blew his top and said, “How dare you say there is such a word in the dictionary” — well, it is in there, but states you should not use it.

Old Blount used to step outside and furiously shake this bell when the electricity failed to ring a bell for school to take up. Well, old Udell stole that bell and put it in a water tank that flushed the toilet. In those days the tank was about 6 foot above the toilet, fastened on the wall. A chain hung down for you to pull, flushing the toilet. After I graduated to high school, I told old Cannon where the damn bell was.

It is quite strange, but Ted Thurman [my great-grandfather and Udell’s father-in-law] went to school at Brady, Texas, and old Cannon Blount was a teacher there. When I arrived at Lowry [AFB in Denver, CO., where my grandfather was stationed for many years] to be a photo instructor, I saw a reserved parking space at the school for “Cannon Blount.” I inquired about him and was told he had cancer and probably would not return. No, I didn’t go see him. I could still see him whipping that poor girl.

Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 9

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, Letters, and Primary Sources: Letters, Documents, Diaries, Histories

Back when I went to Texas schools we had “grade” school for grades 1-7. High school was 8-11. Yes, only 11 years then. Grade seven was very tough. Too many subjects were crammed in one year. There was no kindergarten in public schools. The schools also had the rule that you must be six by the 1st of September. School started on the first Monday in September, and the school term usually ended in the middle of May.

I can claim the distinction of getting a whipping on the very first day of school. Yeah, my very first day of school. Everything went great until recess. We first graders were told to play on the east side of the buildings, near the swings and see-saws. Well, Alvin [my grandfather’s older brother] was on the west side, so I went over there. The school was unloading supplies off a horse-drawn wagon. Now I thought that would be a nice place to play, so I climbed on the wagon. A mean-spirited sixth grade teacher thought otherwise. She dragged me in the building and set my ass upon a heating radiator about four feet tall and told me she was going to tell my teacher about me. She went to the corner of the hall and stepped aside in another hall. Well, I could still see her fat ass protruding — she then returned and said my teacher told me to get back where I belonged. I told her, “Don’t lie to me, I saw you down there at the corner.” Well, I got my butt warmed — and another when I got home.

Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 8

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, Letters, and Primary Sources: Letters, Documents, Diaries, Histories

I had a 30-day leave upon return to the States in May ’45. I was then sent to Camp Parks, California. This place was inland from Oakland at a town called Shoemaker. I looked at a map the other day and Shoemaker does not exist now. Parks was later an Air Force base and then it was closed. Later I discovered that it is now a Federal penitentiary. In July I was put in and O.G.U. outfit (Outward-Going Unit) this is kinda like quarantine. They later bussed us to Treasure Island. This is in the bay between Oakland and Frisco. You are put there with no contact with the world — no telephone, etc. Letters were held until your ship was far at sea. I was there when the first A-bomb was dropped. I was on ship when the second was dropped. Our ship was en route to the southern Philippine Island of Samar. I was no longer a Seabee but was training to be an underwater demolition man or later called Frogmen. We were in the unit scheduled to be the second wave of invasion of Japan. Our target was Tokyo Bay. Anyway, the end of the war placed us back in the Seabees as they no longer needed Frogmen. We then were moved to Cavite Navy Base at Manila. When we were there on Cavite, those recently liberated prisoners were there [I think he is speaking of the POW’s who were forced on the Bataan Death March, but I will ask him for clarification]. We had to be very quiet as not to disturb them. Shortly we were trucked to the Naval base of Subic Bay. At that time the town of Olongapo was very small — no docks for ships. My job there was working in a lumber yard unloading trucks of lumber. I was a rigger on a mobile crane. I would wrap a steel cable around the pallets of lumber and signal the crane to lift the wood. We had Philippine workers to sort and stack the wood. I played a lot of card games.

When on Samar we were near the town of Tubabao. One day a few of us went to town — a friend found a parrot he wanted to buy — he was broke so I loaned him $20.00. He never repaid me so I guess I own the damn parrot. I should stop in Chickasha, Oklahoma and get my parrot from old Pablo Martinez. Yeah sure. $20.00 was a lot of money in those days.

You may not believe me, but in those days during WWII a carton of Camels or Lucky Strike cigarettes cost 50¢ at the ship store. You could get Pall Mall, Chesterfield, Wings and some others like Cools for a whopping 35¢ a carton. Our K-rations had a small box of 5 cigarettes enclosed. Seldom did we have to eat K-rations. Seabees usually had the best chow around a base.

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