Biography of William G. Cunningham


Cunningham, William G., a prominent man of Grand Island, and a veteran of the war of the Rebellion, was born in Sandy Hook, Ky., April 5, 1842, a son of Henry and Mary (Gee) Cunningham, natives of the north of Ireland. Henry Cunningham was a military man, large, powerful and athletic. During a wrestling or jumping contest in 1847 he ruptured a blood vessel and bled to death. His wife died the following year. William G. was then a child of six years, left without a relative, and he was taken by kindly people, Mr. and Mrs. McGregory, who took him to their home on a farm near St. Catherine, Canada. In 1860 he came to Grand Island and on August 8. 1861, enlisted in Co. A. 44th N. Y. Vols.; this company was known as the Ellsworth Avengers. This company was composed of a select lot of men, one man being chosen from each town in Erie county and each ward in the city of Buffalo, each man to be of good moral character, not under eighteen years of age, nor over thirty and no man to be less than five feet eight inches in height, each to possess $100 with which to equip himself with rifle and two suits of special made clothes. He was mustered in at Albany and served three years. He fought under McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, Meade and Grant. The principal battles in which he participated were: Siege of Yorktown, Hanover Court House, Gaines Mills, Malvern Hill, Groveton. Second Bull Run. Antietam, Dam No. 5, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Middleburg, Gettysburg and the Wilderness. He received six wounds in the battle of Gettysburg, and lay on the field two days; he was found by James B. Storms, and to him he is indebted for his life. From the effects of those wounds he was confined to the hospital six months. He then returned to his regiment and fought in the battle of the Wilderness where he was again wounded on May 5. He returned to Albany with his regiment and was mustered out as sergeant October 11, 1864. Returning to Grand Island he engaged in farm work for a time and later spent two years in the oil fields of Pennsylvania, when he again returned to Erie county and engaged as a steamboat engineer on the Niagara River and Lake Erie, following this for fourteen years. During this time he purchased the farm in Grand Island which he now occupies and where he has ever since resided. In politics Mr. Cunningham is a Republican, but has always firmly declined the many proffered nominations for public office. He is a member of the Union Veteran Legion, Encampment No. 97 of Buffalo. In 1869 he married Hannah Mayne, a native of Prussia, born in 1846. She started for America in 1853 with her grandparents and mother, the. latter dying on shipboard. Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham have one son, Fred William, who resides in Buffalo, is married and has two children. Seventeen years after. the birth of their first son a second son was born to them, John, who died after a little over a year of life. The loss of this little fellow was the most severe blow Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham ever received.

Our County and its people
A descriptive work on Erie County, New York
Edited by: Truman C. White
The Boston History Company, Publishes 1898


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