Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",  published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.

     WILLIAM R. CUNNINGHAM, a real estate dealer and negotiator of loans, is a native of Paris, Bourbon county, Kentucky, born April 14, 1834.  It has fallen to the lot of but few men to have been associated, directly and indirectly, with so many of the great men of his time as was the subject of this sketch.  His father, John Cunningham, was a native Virginian, born in Hardy county, whose ancestry included some of the original settlers of the Old Dominion State.  John Cunningham was a member of General Shelby's cavalry during the War of 1812, was in at the death of the brave and crafty Tecumseh at the battle of the Thames, and after the war served as joint state senator for Bath and Bourbon counties, Kentucky.  He was in the senate at the time of Henry Clay's death, and it was through his political manipulation that John J. Crittenden was elected to succeed that great statesman in the senate of the nation.  As a breeder of thoroughbred race horses and Durham cattle, he was a son of whom Kentucky might well be proud.  One horse he owned, Woodpecker, sire of Gray Eagle, cost him the sum of five thousand dollars, which at that time was the highest price ever paid for a horse.  He passed away on his farm near Paris, during August, 1864, aged sixty-nine years.
     Our subject's mother was Mary (Bean) Cunningham, born near Winchester, Virginia, which was also the native state of her parents, who were of German descent.  Upon the outbreak of the Revolution her ancestors living at that time became so intensely American as to cease speaking the German tongue, and to assist in every possible manner the colonial patriots in their struggle for freedom.  The mother's parents were pioneers at Strode Station, Clark county, Kentucky, but a few miles from the home of Daniel Boone.  The male members of the family were all farmers, and her father, John Bean, was a major in the army during the War of 1812.  She died at the old home, aged ninety-three, in the year 1888.
     William R. Cunningham lived in his native state until twenty-three.  At the age of twelve he was placed in a subscription school, where he remained a student thirty-six consecutive months without a vacation, after which period he was placed under the tutorage of Professor John Lutz, the professor of mathematics in the Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky.  Thus young Cunningham learned the profession of civil engineering, and for more than a year practiced under Professor Lutz.  Professor Lutz then advised the elder Cunningham to place the boy in the Kentucky Military Institute, then located at Blue Licks, with a view to preparing him for West Point, there to educate him to be a topographical engineer.  James G. Blaine was then occupying the chair of mathematics at the Kentucky Military Institute, and owing to a ruction in the school, in which Mr. Blaine was involved, it was removed to the vicinity of Frankfort, and Blaine resigned.  This trouble dissolved the Cunningham plans, caused the father to conclude that the son should never receive a college education, and thus altered the entire trend of his life, at least for the time being.  However, the young man determined to act independently, accumulate sufficient funds to carry him through, go out into the world alone and give himself a college education.  While putting this resolution into practice he came in contact with Selucius Garfield, cousin to the martyred president, who was then canvassing the state in the Buchanan-Breckenridge presidential campaign, in 1856, in behalf of Buchanan.  After Buchanan's election Garfield was appointed receiver of the land office at Olympia, Washington Territory, and Young Cunningham was appointed his assistant.  He arrived at Olympia in May, 1857, remained one year then returned to the national capital, recommended by Fayette McMullin, then governor of the territory, S. Garfield and all other leading officials of the territory, for the post of superintendent of Indian affairs of this territory and Oregon, which post was then held by James W. Nosmith, father-in-law of Senator Levi Ankeny.  Then Oregon and Washington were under one superintendent.  Isaac I. Stevens was elected to congress in 1857 with the understanding that the Washington and Oregon superintendencies were to be divided, and our subject appointed to the Washington position.  But the necessary Congressional bill failed in passing and the plan fell through.  It was then that William R. Cunningham entered Bethany college, Brook county, Virginia.  He entered in 1858 and remained until December 19, 1860, at which time, on account of the intensity of the war spirit, forty-three of the Southern students withdrew.  While in this school he organized, with six fellows, the Greek fraternity, "Delta Tau Delta," which still exists.  When war finally broke out, Mr. Cunningham, on account of having worked for the election of Breckenridge for the presidency, was naturally compelled to join the confederate army, which he did in June, 1862.  When George W. Johnson was made provincial governor of the state of Kentucky, our subject became one of the revenue commissioners of that government, with military rank of captain.  After General A. S. Johnson abandoned the state to the Federal troops and fell back into Tennessee, Captain Cunningham co-operated with the cavalry command of General John H. Morgan, was with him through his famous raid, and with his command was captured after being wounded at the battle of Buffington Island, July 19, 1863.  He was then confined in the military prison at Columbus, Ohio.  After being in the prison for eight and one-half months he was released, took the oath of allegiance, and returned to civil life in Ohio.
     On January 4, 1865, he was married to Rebecca W. James, daughter of George James.  Her father was a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and of English parentage.  He read law with Chief Justice Marshall, uncle of Thos. F. Marshall, the famous Kentucky orator, was admitted to the bar, and went to Zanesville Ohio, where he practiced forty-two years, and where he died in 1872.  Mrs. Cunningham's mother was Martha (Abbott) James, born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and died in 1858.  She was descended from the famous old Abbott family, of which J. S. C. Abbott, the historian, was a
     Mrs. Cunningham had two brothers: George A., a Harvard law graduate, who married a sister of Senator Henry Cabot Lodge; and Richard F., a hardware merchant, of Nebraska.  She has one sister living, Hattie, widow of John Bancroft, who was the son of George Bancroft, the noted historian.
     Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham went to Kentucky in 1865, and to Missouri in 1866, where the subject farmed and practiced law until May, 1870, when he became a preacher in the Church of Christ, which profession he has followed to some extent ever since.  He came to Ritzville in 1889, and took a homestead and timber culture near Scott's Station, since changed to Cunningham Station, the townsite of which he owns.  He has always been a dominant factor in the political aspect of the county since coming here, is a forceful speaker and indomitable worker for the best interests of the community at large.  Especially has he been actively concerned with his fellow citizens in their fight against the railroads for a reduction in freight tolls.  He has two brothers and one sister: John, George, and Omie.
     Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham have three children: Alice, wife of F. P. French; William R., Jr., and Elizabeth C.  The first named was the only woman who ever became United States court commissioner in Washington, she having been appointed to succeed her husband, who is mentioned elsewhere in this volume.
     Mr. Cunningham is a member of the A. F. and A. M., and of the Democratic party.  He is now secretary of the Adams county central committee of that party, and has frequently been a delegate to its state and county conventions.
      Mr. Cunningham, with his wife, son, William R., Jr., and daughter, owns thirty-five hundred acres of grain land in Adams county, nearly all of which is under cultivation, and he owns in addition one of the best residence properties in the city of Ritzville.
     On August 5, 1902, Mr. Cunningham was appointed by the county commissioners the only delegate from Adams county to meet the railroad presidents, J. J. Hill, C. S. Mellen, and A. L. Mohler, of the Great Northern, Northern Pacific and Oregon Railroad and Navigation Companies, respectively.  It is an admitted fact that Mr. Cunningham delivered the speech which made the "hit" that caused the reduction of freight rates, which was the object of the assemblage.