Heritage, Volume 8, Number 4, Fall 1990 Page: 12
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In 1889, the family gathered at the old
home for their first reunion where a
photographer took a picture of James and
Susie and their twelve children on the
porch. The family then met only sporadically
until 1900-after the deaths of James
in 1894 and Susie in 1899-when there
was a spontaneous movement to have annual
Without further ceremony, each of the
original twelve children was notified to
bring every member of his or her family to
the grove between the Aaron and David
Cunningham homes on the 15th of
The family gathered that year and has
gathered every year at the same grove without
exception. It is believed to be the oldest
continuous family reunion in Texas and
one of the oldest in the nation.
Family reunions are an institution in
the South, particularly in Texas, where
they exemplify and symbolize a family's
strong link with its historic pioneer past.
The Cunningham reunion, with its long
and continuous record of annual meetings,
its ownership and maintenance of its
own reunion grounds, its roots in an
intrepid fighting Texas family, exemplifies
the ultimate in old pioneer family
The reunion has remained basically the
same all these years. The family continues
the original two-day format with a basket
picnic supper on the first day and the next
morning a breakfast of steak and eggs
followed by a barbecue at noon.
As early as 1907, a Fort Worth newspaper
reported that there were 257 descendants
of James and Susie then living
and that 167 were present at the reunion
that year. Attendance currently averages
about 225-250 persons. Over 1300 living
descendants of James and Susie Cunningham
are on the rolls of the current
The Cunningham family appointed a
Centennial Celebration Committee
which for two years planned a Centennial
of the 1889 Reunion to be held in August
Out of concern that the family might
outgrow the reunion grounds, additional
adjoining-acreage was purchased in 1988 to
ensure sufficient room for the continuation
of this annual event. In
recognition of this historic reunion the
Texas Historical Commission erected a
State Marker in 1989 on the reunion
12 HERITAGE * FALL 1990
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 4, Fall 1990, periodical, Autumn 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45429/m1/12/: accessed January 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.