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(from the Randolph County Heritage Book, page 94)


Nathaniel Cunningham    116

written by Juanita Bulla Jackson Kesler

Nathaniel Cunningham was born in 1754, in Petersburg [now Prince George County, Virginia.]  His parents were Alexander and ? Mary [Michaux] Cunningham.  Nothing is known of his early years, but while a student in Princeton College, in Prince Edward County, he enlisted in September 1775 in the Continental Army.  He first served in a company commanded by Captain Robert Ballard, in a regiment commanded by Patrick Henry, and served for one year, then was discharged at Williamsburg.  He again enlisted in Captain Morton's Company in the 4th Virginia Regiment, commanded by Col. Robert Lawson, and remained there for two years, until March 1777, when he transferred to the Life Guard of General George A. Washington, serving until the fall of 1778.  He again enlisted in the said Guard for another three years, but exchanged situations at the request of Col. Parker of the 1st Virginia Regiment, until 1780.  He received his discharge from Col. Ball, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, after the Battle in which General Gale was defeated.  He served in the Battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Monmouth.  After his service, he became a school master, and also worked in the family owned store of Cunningham & Company.

    I found a record of accounts paid by Stephen Towns, in which he paid N. Cunningham for a pair of sheep shears, and another to N. Cunningham for sundry goods, and yet another for N. Cunningham & Co., for "short charge in his acct, 27 Dec. 1786."  I noted another notation in the same records which stated he paid Cunningham & Harper for goods.  Perhaps this Mr. Harper served with him for a short period of time.  I do not know if there was a Cunningham Store in Halifax County, Virginia, but I do know there was a store just across the State line in upper Person County, N.C.  On Sept. 30 1788, a will written by Francis Brandon, which states he gives his son Francis Brandon (Jr.) 112 acres of land adjoining Nathaniel Cunningham and James Dials, and in the same will he also gives to his son, Francis, 40 pounds cash which "he is to collect of Nathaniel Cunningham due me on a bond." 

    On September 25, 1790, Nathaniel married Elizabeth (Betsey) Snead in Caswell County, N.C.  In January of 1791, he sold 100 acres of land on Wynn's Creek and Dan River to Thos. Word.  One wonders if this 100 acres was a portion of bounty land that Nathaniel received for his Revolutionary War service.  In August of 1783, he was granted 200 acres, but I have not been able to learn where this land was located.

    By 1800, the Cunningham Store in Person County was being operated by Alexander Cunningham, who was probably a nephew of Nathaniel's.  Nathaniel and Betsey appear on the 1800 census for Randolph County, and in April 1801, he "entered" 100 acres of land on the "waters of Fork Creek," in lower Randolph County. 

    The family of Nathaniel and Betsey (Snead) Cunningham were:  Alexander, b. ca. 1791.  He was named for his grandfather, Alexander Cunningham.  He married in Randolph Co., to Ann Hinshaw, and was a lawyer and served as Justice of Peace.  Amelia Cunningham, b. Oct. 1794.  She never married, but did have a child born out of wedlock, with Andrew Balfour, Jr.  Elizabeth Cunningham, b. 1797 and d. Mar. 1866 in Putnam Co., IN.  She m. Absalom Brown in Randolph Co., on 6 Sep. 1825.  Sarah (aka Sally) Michaux Cunningham, b. 4 Aug. 1798, in VA, married Daniel Bulla, 31 Jul. 1814, in Randolph Co.  She d. 3 Apr. 1882, and is buried in the Bulla Family Cemetery in No. Asheboro.  John Cunningham, b. ca. 1800 in Randolph Co., m. Elizabeth Johnson, d. 1887 in Oscaloosa, Iowa.  Susanna Cunningham, b. 27 Jul. 1801, Randolph Co., and m. 27 Sep. 1827 to Jeremiah Stiles. d. 1869 in Savannah, MO.  Benjamin Snead Cunningham, b. 1805, also in Randolph Co., m. Margaret Humphrey, 19 May 1837 in Putnam Co., IN. He d. 27 Mar. 1893 in Keithburg, IL.  The youngest child, was Lucinda (aka) Lucy Cunningham, b. 15 Mar. 1812 Asheboro, Randolph Co., NC, married William Bailey in Putnam Co., IN.

    In August of 1822, Nathaniel applied for a pension, citing he suffered from a "consumptive cough that very much prevents my attention to business."  Sometime thereafter, he and his family moved to Putnam County, Indiana, which was "opening up" to an adventurous public.

    Nathaniel Cunningham died 16 Aug. 1832 and is buried on Goldsberry farm, three miles east of Greencastle.  His grave is marked with a Veterans Marker issued by the government.  It was placed there in November 1930 with a DAR dedication service.

    Only Sarah Cunningham and her husband, Daniel Bulla remained in Randolph County, although they moved from their Back Creek home, to Putnam Co., Indiana, where they remained for a year.  Daniel missed his kin, and friends, and the wilderness settlement was not to his liking.  They returned to Daniel's beloved Randolph County in September of 1834, moving back into the home in which Daniel had grown up, in the Back Creek area.

    Daniel was a prosperous farmer, school teacher, Justice of the Peace and was a surveyor, who laid out many of the early roads in Randolph County.  Many descendants of Daniel, son of Thomas Bulla, Jr. and Esther Weddis, reside in Randolph County today.

    Sources:  The Commanders in Chiefs Guard, by Carlos E. Godfrey; Nathaniel Cunningham's application for pension; marriage license for Nathaniel and Elizabeth Snead, Caswell County, NC; Records of Betty Walker, of Clearwater, Fl., Census Records of Randolph Co., NC Land Entries, 1779, 1780, & 1783-1801, by Grigg, Harper & Pruitt; Halifax County Virginia Will Book 2, 1783-1792, compiled by Chiarito & Pendergast, and N.C. Biographies & Sketches of Soldiers serving in Battle of Guilford Courthouse, published by Greensboro Chapter of DAR.


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