J. A. CUNNINGHAM
The story of the rise of Utah from a desert to one of the greatest wealth centers of the Union naturally involves
an account of numerous important citizens who have assisted in this evolution process, and who have benefited themselves
generously while working out the destiny of the region. Such a person is James A. Cunningham, one of the best known
mining and business men of Salt Lake City.
Mr. Cunningham was born at Quincy, Illinois, on June 14, 1842. His father was a well to do farmer, his mother was
Lucinda Rawlins, of Bedford, Indiana. The Cunningham family lived in Illinois until James was five years old, then
they removed to the State of Iowa. The elder Cunningham took a large tract of farming territory located about twenty
miles above Council Bluffs, where the family lived until the spring of 1848, when all faced the West on a long
and tedious wagon journey to Utah. This part of Mr. Cunningham's life is indelibly impressed on his mind, although
the party passed across the plains and mountains without untoward incident. Only once did the Indians interfere
with progress, and a liberal distribution among them of tobacco and foodstuffs quickly secured safe passage through
Mr. Cunningham during his first few years in the new territory followed farming, and afterwards became a freighter
in and out of Montana. Those were thrilling days for the young man, but he passed through many adventures none
the worse for his experiences. In 1874 he turned his attention to mining, buying a prominent interest in the Mammoth
Mine in the Eureka District of Utah. He served as president for several years, and was vice president and a director
for twelve years, and still is connected with this famous property. Up to the past ten years, he had much to do
with the active management of the organization. To date the Mammoth company has paid in dividends the sum of $2,220,000.
Mr. Cunningham for three years was president and manager of the Bullion Beck Mining Company, another liberal dividend
payer of the State. In a less prominent way, Mr. Cunningham has been identified with numerous successful mining
companies of the West, and for many years he was noted as one of the big sheep men of the Western plains. At one
time he was the owner of 32,000 head of sheep, but when wool was placed on the free list he began gradually to
free himself from what was proving to be a losing venture. Associated with his sons, Mr. Cunningham is the owner
of a 40,000 acre sugar plantation in Mexico, where he spends half of his time each year. This plantation is one
of the most valuable in that republic.
By perseverance and hard work from the early days, Mr. Cunningham has accumulated a fortune, and is one of the
wealthy men of Utah, yet one of the most unassuming and approachable to be found anywhere. He is filled with the
conviction, pounded into him by years of roughing it on desert and mountain, of man's equality as far as he deserves
such consideration. He has a wide circle of friends throughout the West and South who have learned to know him
as a healthy brained, strong willed and strong muscled gentleman of that fast disappearing type known as the old
school. Mr. Cunningham owns a beautiful home in Salt Lake City, where with his family he is happy and content.
He has five daughters and two sons now living.
Sketches of the Inter-Mountain States
1847 - 1909
Utah Idaho Nevada
Published by: The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake City, Utah 1909
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