All posts by Dana Huff

Letter from Udell Cunningham, November 2005 Part 1

I received a letter from my grandfather in the mail today. It’s very long, filling nearly two 50-page notepads. I asked him to write down his memories and stories for me. Some of his letter I will share here. The remainder of this entry is his writing.

So you want me to write about things that I have done, seen or heard in my many years of experiences. I hope you know that historians claim that people as old as I usually forget things, embellish the things that they remember. I also will tell some things that happened during my lifetime. Please, please put the red correction pencil away [why must my family perpetually accuse me of grading their correspondence???]. I know that I break every grammatical rule ever made. I plan to relate tales, stories, or whatever that I know happened, but historians tell about the events in a vastly different manner… So if you’re ready, here goes the B.S….

I have personally met two famous generals. When on Attu our work crew decided to play hookey and drive over to the Army P.X. [Papa was in the Seabees in WWII]. We had a truck assigned to our crew to haul plumbing supplies and pipe. Anyway on the way to the P.X. we stopped beside the road and were lounging in the lush grass looking back along the Aleutian Island chain. This was an amazing sight as it was extremely clear. You could see back to the mainland. Anyway, this jeep stopped and a large soldier approached us. He asked who we were. We told him — Seabees. Anyway we told him the work we did. Then asked him what he did. He replied that he was the boss of the soldiers. He was Major General Simon Bolivar Buckner. General Buckner was the commander of the Army 7th Division. General Buckner was later “involved” with the invasion of Okinawa. He was killed by a sniper on Ie-Shima — the same small island where Ernie Pyle was killed. Ernie Pyle was a very famous writer that covered the war from the “grunt” level. The other general I met was Lt. General (3 star) Leon Johnson. I met him at Hensley Field, Texas in 1964. Gen. Johnson was the Colonel that led the planes on the infamous ill-fated raid on Ploesti, Romania. This was a raid designed to destroy Hitler’s oil supply. The planes got lost on the long run from bases in North Africa — broke radio silence and were met by [a] large group of the Luftwaffe. Most of the hundreds of planes were lost. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for this run.

PlanetHuff Down

I’m sorry if you’ve been trying to access any pages on (including this one) over the last couple of days. Tech support appears to have fixed the problem, but I don’t understand what it was — I thought I spoke Geek pretty well, but I’m obviously not fluent.

If you continue to have problems viewing the web sites on this domain, please contact either Steve or me by e-mail (remove the (AT) and replace with @).

Johnson Franklin Cunningham and Family

My distant relation Helen Lowry sent me the following photo yesterday:

Front row, left to right: Johnson Franklin Cunningham, Mary Anne Penelope Anthony Cunningham, possibly Charles Benjamin Cunningham or Alexander Stephen Cunningham.

Back row, left to right: Possibly Johnson Hood Cunningham or Charles Benjamin Cunningham, Mary Elizabeth Cunningham (Mollie — later married name Bragg), Martha Lugena Cunningham (Mattie — later married name also Bragg), and Amos Blakey Cunningham.

I estimate that the photo was taken between 1882 and 1884 based on the appearances of the children. I am not positive about the identities of the tallest boy in the back row or the boy in the front row. Family records have indicated that the youngest Cunningham son, Alexander Stephen Cunningham, died as an infant. The oldest boy on the far left seems to look older than my great-great-grandfather Amos, based on height; however, it should be noted that Amos was noted for his short stature — the family called him Little Grandpa, and his wife Stella mentions in her diary that he weighed 115 pounds as a full-grown man in his twenties. If the tallest boy is indeed Charles, then the young boy must be Alexander, and it would seem that he did not die as an infant as all our genealogical records indicated.

Pictures of Stella

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of this site that I am fascinated with my great-great-grandmother, Stella Bowling Cunningham. I recently received two more pictures of her that wanted to share. These were most likely taken before her marriage in 1894. McKinney, Texas, and Plano, Texas are in the current Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

Diary of Stella Bowling Cunningham, Complete

I have finished transcribing the November 1893-September 1894 diary of Stella Bowling Cunningham. I will continue to post it in entries at this site, but if you wish to download it in its entirety as a Rich Text Format document, you may do so by selecting the version you wish here (RTF or PDF) or by clicking the link in the sidebar under “Downloads.” My posts of the diary entries will consist of my particular favorites or ones I find interesting rather than the whole diary, but you can get a flavor for the diary by checking out these three entries:

Diary of Stella Bowling Cunningham, December 1893 Part 2

View Introduction and Notes on the Text.

Transcription of the Diary of Stella Bowling Cunningham, December 16, 1893 to December 31, 1893

Sat. Dec. 16, 1893Helped clean up and wrote to J.W.T.

Went to town with Aunt Panthea [the sister of Stella’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Kennedy, Panthea Narcissa Kennedy Payne], Florence, and Mrs. Hayes.

Went to several stores. Had my voucher fixed by old Bro. Perry paid .25 cts.
Bought stamps .10 cts.
Knife .25
Borrowed off D. Campbell $10.00.

Dec. 16, 1893 concluded

Bought (at Denton) velvet .50
(at Denton) rings .10
hat 2.50
ribbon (cream) .25
lawn .10
Silk (cream) .10
silk thread .05
Album 1.50
fine-comb .10
pocket-book .05
Comb-case .10

Finished the book-mark and made one for Mary Hutton and wrote a little to her and sent it. In evening went with Aunt Panthea to see some sick people, the Mrs-es Milligan & Mrs. Bradley.

Went back to Mrs. Milligan to get a stamping pattern.

Wrote to Mama [Mary Kennedy Bowling] and fixed the cravat case to send.

Florence and I went to Mrs. Hall’s to get a cloak-pattern but failed to get it.

Sunday, Dec. 17, 1893

After the cleaning up I washed & dressed for church.

Went to Mr. E. church & heard the new preacher preach on “The Lord is my Shepherd.”

In the evening Mr. Amos came for me. At night several young folks came in and I had to play some for them [in several other places in the diary, Stella mentions playing the organ, so it may be assumed that is what she means here]. They sang some. (There was whiskey around.)

Got a letter from Flood and Vincent so fixed the book “Outlines of Economics” to send back to exchange for “Roman & Medieval Art.”

I left ten cents to pay postage.

Monday, Dec. 18, 1893

School as usual and very good too. At night made a pin cushion & gave Mrs. Cunningham [Mary Anne Penelope Anthony Cunningham, Amos’s mother] and Mattie. Made two head rests (a long one and a square one).

Fixed the hat-mark in Mr. Libass’ hat. The first thing in the eve was to start my hat-mark with A.B.C. [initials of Amos Blakey Cunningham] on it to be a Xmas present.

Tues. Dec. 19, 1893


Sent and bought hat-rack .10 bought Panthea’s knife, fork, & spoon .25.

As Mr. Cunningham was fixing to move several came to help catch chickens so I did nothing but talk, play the organ and eat pop-corn & pecans.

In evening I finished my skirt & made my handkerchiefs.

Wed. Dec. 20, 1893

Mr. Cunningham moved out & Mr. Bragg came in.

School as common. After which I made another head rest! Wrote a note to Eva.

At night read some & finished my hat-mark.

Mr. Amos sat up & talked with me till late and I granted his request [either a euphemism for a kiss or his proposal].

Began my handkerchief.

Thurs. Dec. 21st 1893

School as common & read some at night. Retired early.

Miss Mattie staid all night and went to a party.

I slept good.

Friday Dec. 22, 1893

School as usual and dismissed for Xmas.

Fixed up things to go home and went to Mr. Cunningham’s with Mr. Amos on a load of oats (in sacks).

At night the Houston boys came over and staid till bed-time.

Sat. Dec. 23, ’93

Mr. Amos took me to Coppell in a buggy.

Bought ticket for .80 cts. And started for home about ten o’clock. At Plano Mama & Homer [Stella’s brother, Homer Alfred Bowling] met me in the buggy.

I paid on Homer’s suit $2.00 and bought for Horation [Stella’s brother, Horatio Hayden Bowling] a chest of tools .35.

Got home before night. Mama, Miss Mollie, and Ida came to see me.

Sunday 12-24-1893

Did up work and went to church. Bro. Crouch preached on “The Seven Sayings of Christ on the Cross.”

In eve Home and I went to see Velma and take their presents [to] put in children’s stockings (cts.) .50.

Monday. Dec. 25th 1893 Xmas

Cleaned up and gave the presents. Papa a book-mark Mama a comb-case, Homer a knife and hat-rack Horation a little tool chest, & Panthea a knife, fork, & spoon [Note: This is probably Stella’s sister Panthea or Panthia Verena Bowling rather than her Aunt Panthea.] Mama gave me a collar and cuffs.

Velma, Herbert, and his Bro. came about eleven o’clock they gave me a work-box. We had a very good dinner. Mrs. Leach came a while & Susie also Ida a few moments. Velma & them went home. We played “Cash” and enjoyed it. Got a letter from Maggie.

Tues. Dec. 26, 1893

After cleaning up I painted Laura’s felt for paper-holder.

Went to Mr. Armstrong’s a few moments. Then to Mr. Culledges to see Stena [or possibly Steven] Watson.

Went to the S.S. concert at Campbellite church. It was very good but I sorter had headache.

Wed. 12-27-1893

After cleaning up & dressing we all went to Velma’s, had a good dinner. In the eve Mrs. Dorsey, Mrs. Worsham, Mrs. Mary Shirley, & Mrs. Graham came to see us.

After they all left Velma & I went where Bro. Herbert was working. (I staid all night at McKinney, the rest went home.)

Thurs. 12-28-1893

After getting ready Velma and I went by Mrs. Phillips’ a while then out to depot and I came home paying for ticket .25.

Washed & ironed Papa some shirts when I got home. In eve went to Mrs. Leach’s & to Lizzy Ereckson’s & saw Mr. Hugh.

Miss Mollie gave me some plants to set out.

Got a letter from Mary Hutton. (I think it was to-day.)

Fri. 12-29, 1893

After cleaning up & getting ready Papa brought me over to Lewisville in buggy. I had no mail only “Chautauquan.”

Saturday 12-30-1893

Got up late & help do work. Made a head-rest for Aunt Panthea (A large one).

Papa left after-noon. Went to Uncle John’s awhile.

My washing which had been done last week was .25 (unpaid).

Bought wax .05

Aunt Panthea gave me a beautiful handkerchief to use as neck-tie (pink chiffon).

Florence and I went to Mrs. Payne’s & I went to Mrs. Hall’s but Cora was gone.

Sun. 12-31-1893

Got breakfast or rather helped & helped clean up then dressed but was too sick to go to church. I had to lie down some & ate no dinner. Uncle Jeff brought me out to Mrs. Bragg’s (as I was about well.) I started to write some and Mr. Amos came to see me. We had a very nice time. He gave me a beautiful silk handkerchief with S on it & said “S is for sweet.” He staid till after eleven o’clock then bid me good bye ( ) [Stella’s euphemism for a kiss].

Thus ended the year 1893 with me after he left I retired but was sleepless for sometime & heard shooting to welcome the New Year I suppose.

I prayed before retiring.

Now dear 1893 I bid you adieu. You have gone with joys to some and sorrows to others and I have had some of each. Farewell, farewell.

Diary of Stella Bowling Cunningham, December 1893 Part 1

View Introduction and Notes on the Text.

Transcription of the Diary of Stella Bowling Cunningham, December 1, 1893 to December 15, 1893

Fri. Dec. 1- 1893School as usual & in eve swept the house & went to Lewisville.

Sat. Dec. 2, 1893

Went to town and bought
Canton flannel $1.35
thread .05
Brown velvet .60
canbrier [?] .100
Crinlin [?] .10

Wrote to Flood & Vincent about exchanging a book. Wrote to J.W.T. & Mary Hutton.

Sewed on dress.

Washing .20 unpaid.

Sun. Dec. 3, 1893

It was to-day I wrote instead of Sat.

In evening Uncle Jeff took me out to Mr. Cunningham & Mr. A. [Amos Cunningham] & I had a talk at night.

Mon. Dec. 4 ’93

Had school. The first day of second month [perhaps this refers to when Stella started teaching school?].

Sewed on my dress after school & at night.

Sent picture to Sallie & Minnie.

Bought stamps .10 cts.

Tues. Dec. 5, 1893

School as usual and in eve sewed some & at night went to church. Free Will preached on the Blind man healed.

One profession.

Mr. Amos went with me.

Wed. Dec. 6, 1893

Not a full school because of rain. Wrote a little to Maggie. Sewed in eve and at night. (The pedd? [possibly peddler] staid all night.) Mr. Libass teased us so much.

Thurs. Dec. 7, 1893

School as usual and sewed at night. Carrie staid all night.

Fri. Dec. 8, 1893

School as common & in eve had spelling [possibly tutoring or extra class?]. Uncle Jeff came for me. Found Mama [Mary Elizabeth Kennedy Bowling] & Children [most likely Stella’s younger siblings] here.

Sat. Dec. 9, 1893

Wrote to Maggie & to Judge Bradley, sending three stamps for reply.

Sewed on dress finished it. Went to town and
bought Silk $.50
thread (silk) .10
ribbon .15
cord .15
ribbon & thread .35

Borrowed from P.N.C. $1.00

Went to Uncle John’s [I’m not sure who Uncle John is, as I have no record of a sibling named “John” for either parent, but could be an uncle by marriage or family friend].

Washing .20 cts. unpaid.
Rubber .10 cts.

Sunday, Dec. 10, 1893

Arose late and helped do work then went to church wore my green dress.

A Bro. Miller preached on “Stephen being stoned.”

In eve Uncle Jeff brought me out to Mr. C [presumably Cunningham] and at night we all went to church at schoolhouse. Mr. Amos went with me. A Mr. Holley preached about “Salvation being of the Lord etc.” It was late when we retired.

Wrote to Rosco.

Monday, Dec. 11, 1893

School as usual and at night made the cravat case for Velma [Stella’s sister]. Mr. A. sat up with me & we had a talk. Bought stamps .10.

Tues. Dec. 12, 1893

School and it turned cold. At night wen went to Mrs. Lusk’s and it was late when I retired. (Mr. A. asked for a ( ) but I refused.) [Note: This is one of Stella’s euphemisms for “kiss.”] Got a letter from J.W.T.

Mr. Amos brought my papers and paint too.

Wednesday, Dec. 13, 1893

At night made Mr. Libass’ hat mark. School as common.

Went to Mr. Bragg’s [possibly the Bragg family that Amos’s sister Mattie (Martha Lugena Cunningham) married into] and saw the little baby & got to board with them.

Thurs. Dec. 14, 1893

At night went to a party at Mr. W. Cunningham’s [most likely William Matthew Cunningham, Amos’s oldest brother] and came home to make Mattie’s hat mark [Mattie is most likely Martha Lugena Cunningham, Amos’s sister].

Sat up late to get it finished.

Fri. Dec. 15, 1893

School as usual and afterward swept the house.

Fixed to go to town & wrote some in this book.

It was late when Uncle Jeff came for me. Commenced Papa’s [“Papa” was William Jones Bowling, Stella’s father] book-mark. Went to Mrs. Hall.

Diary of Stella Bowling Cunningham, November 28, 1893 – November 30, 1893

Introduction and Notes on the text:

I have preserved all of Stella Bowling Cunningham’s writing, including errors, such as spelling errors, capitalization errors, etc. except where confusion might occur. I have also preserved her original paragraph breaks, although I didn’t preserve her line breaks, as the diary was written in a very thin ledger. Where writing is indecipherable or extra notation is needed in order for the reader to understand something, I have included a note in italics and brackets [ ].

Stella apparently taught school during part of the time in which she wrote this journal; this is inferred from the fact that she frequently mentions school as if she is teaching it. She apparently boarded in several houses, as it was not uncommon for local families to host teachers. One family with whom she boarded was the Cunningham family. “Mr. Cunningham” in her journal refers to Johnson Franklin Cunningham, who would become her father-in-law. Mr. A. and Mr. Amos refer to Amos Blakey Cunningham, who would become her husband. The journal might have been started during the beginning stages of their courtship and continues past their wedding, covering a total of about ten months from November 1893 to September 1894. Toward the end of the journal, she mentions how sick she feels. I think she is experiencing morning sickness, as she would have been expecting my great-grandfather, but she doesn’t mention she is pregnant in the journal.

Tuesday, Nov. 28, 1893

Had school as usual & fun [possibly fine] too but not extra good order.

I am most sick with cold and cough.

In eve Uncle Jeff [I am not sure who this is, as I have no record of a sibling named “Jeff” for either of Stella’s parents, but it could be an uncle by marriage or a family friend] came by and brought me two letters, one from Rosco & one from Sadie & my Chautauquan [The Chautauquan was a publication of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, the first organized reading circle in the country, a four-year course of assigned home reading].

Sent for stamps .10 cts. For this book .10 and bought Pain Paint .25.

After school finished my gown all but buttons & holes.

Read some in my course.

Wed. Nov. 29, ’93

Nothing unusual.

Thurs. Nov. 30,1893

Thanksgiving day but it was not observed here. Started to write to — [indecipherable, possibly Minnie].

Family Reunion Letters

It seems a lot of people are stopping by here looking for advice on writing family reunion letters. I have not actually ever planned a family reunion or written a letter, so take my advice with that in mind.

It seems logical to me that the first step involved in planning a reunion is to scout out among your family members for interest. If no one is interested, it will be an exercise in frustration. Give yourself plenty of time to plan. Large events like this don’t come together at the spur of the moment. My goal with this post is not to teach you how to put together a family reunion; however, but to help you with writing a letter.

First of all, use a word processing program like MS Word to create a mail merge file and send a letter to as many relatives as you can think of. I would create something like this:

The Huff family needs your help. We are organizing a family reunion for July 2007, and we want be sure as many family members attend as possible. Won’t you please help us? We sent a copy of this letter to the following individuals [don’t send addresses; it isn’t necessary]. If you know of someone else who needs to be included in our plans, please send their name and address to us.

Once you have collected as many addresses as possible, send copies of the family group sheet chart (look in the sidebar to the right if you need one) to each family. Ask that they send these back to you, so you will have accurate genealogical information. It would be a nice gesture to include as many family members as possible on some sort of descendent tree chart, like my grandfather’s cousin Lee did for a Cunningham family reunion in the 1990’s. However, be very careful not to include erroneous information, which can inadvertently lead to hurt feelings. A person in one branch of my family simply entered any unknown dates as January 1 of the year in which the event was believed to have occurred. An uninformed person taking that information as truth might decide to build their genealogy files upon that erroneous information, thereby introducing huge errors into the genealogical record.

If you do not receive replies from some families, you might need to contact them again. I personally would not become a pest. If someone made it very clear they didn’t want to cooperate, I would try to include his/her information as best as I could, but I would not invent dates or spellings, and I might indicate such doubts by question marks. Try to exhaust other alternatives — such as contacting other family members you think might have the information. If, for instance, I couldn’t remember my cousin’s daughter’s middle name, and she did not reply with a completed family group sheet, I could try my aunt, who would most likely know the middle name of her granddaughter and would probably reply to my letter.

Please feel free to add your comments if you have tips or advice on family reunion letters for readers of this site.

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