Heritage, Volume 8, Number 4, Fall 1990 Page: 9
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The Cunningham family gathered for their first reunion in 1889.
Front row left to right: David, Aaron, Captain James, Susannah (Aunt Susie), Elizabeth, Richard.
Back row left to right: John, William, James, Joseph, Thomas, George, Mary Jane, Unity Ann.
Photo courtesy of F. Lee Lawrence.
Settlers were being murdered and
horribly mutilated and their livestock
driven off by the Indians.
In June 1858, James Cunningham consented
to organize a volunteer company to
protect the Comanche County area and
reported to Governor H.R. Runnels that
the company had been enrolled, was in
service, and he had been elected to its
From the organization of the county in
1856 until the cessation of plunders in the
early 1870s, the Cunninghams were involved
in virtually every Indian battle that
took place in or emanated from Comanche
County. The documented fights in which
they took part were Rush Creek, Buffalo
Gap, Tater Hill, Blanket Creek, Salt
Mountain, Brown Creek, Cow House
Creek, Dove Creek, and Hog Creek. The
records of many other engagements with
the Indians have undoubtedly been lost in
the passage of time.
During the Civil War, in the absence of
Federal Troops, Indian raids became more
frequent and devastating on the Northwest
Texas frontier. Most families left Comanche
County rather than continue to endure
the hardships and dangers brought about
by these raids.
However, the Cunninghams remained
and in 1861 James was elected captain of a
Comanche County company of frontiersmen.
In 1864 he was again elected captain
of the company of the 2nd Frontier
District, commanded by Major George B.
Erath. The 1864 muster roll shows James as
a forty-eight year old captain, and his
sons-David, 3rd lieutenant, Aaron and
In 1861 or 1862, after the Indians had
stolen a large number of horses in the town
of Comanche, James Cunningham and
several of his sons together with about
twelve others followed the Indians' trail to
the headwaters of the Lampasas in Mills
County where a battle ensued. Horses were
essential to the lives of the frontier Texans.
Dick Cunningham later reported that the
Comanches "took our horses until we
would have to go as far as Waco to get a
saddle horse. We all but slept with the
horses, but the Indians never gave up." The
Cunninghams did sleep with their horses
HERITAGE * FALL 1990 9
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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/m1/9/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.