George D. Cunningham is one of the enterprising and representative business men of Riverside who have made that city second in enterprise to none in San Bernardino County. He has been associated with her leading business enterprises and building industries since 1876, during which time the small hamlet of a few hundreds has grown to a city of thousands. He was born in Nova Scotia in 1853. His parents were Herbert R. and Eleanor (McGregor) Cunningham. He was reared and schooled in his native place until sixteen years of age, and then came to the United States and located at West Amesbury, now Merrimac, Massachusetts; there be entered into an apprenticeship at the carriage and wagon makers’ trade. A close attention to business for four or five years resulted in making him a skilled workman, and a master of the practical details of the business. He then returned to his home in Nova Scotia, where he resided until 1876. In that year he decided to establish himself on the Pacific Coast, and came to Riverside.
Upon his arrival he engaged in mercantile life as a clerk with R. F. Cunningham in the general merchandise business. After a few months in that employ he established himself in business as a carriage manufacturer and dealer in agricultural implements on Eighth Street. He was a master of his business and soon gained the confidence and support of the community. As his business increased he entered heartily in improving and building up the city.
In 1883 he built the well-known Cunningham block on the corner of Main and Eighth streets. This was the second two-story brick business block erected in Riverside. During that same year a disastrous fire destroyed his carriage works, etc., but he never lost his faith either in himself or in the future of his chosen city, and after a few months of commission work in the sale of carriages for Eastern manufacturers, be established a furniture business in his block on Main street two doors south of Eighth street, under the firm name of Cunningham & Kelley. This partnership continued until 1886, when be bought out the interests of his partner, and conducted the business alone. In 1887 he moved his warehouse to the Hoyt block, and conducted his greatly enlarged business until May, 1888, when he sold out to W. S. Sweatt & Co. In September of that year he formed a partnership with Mr. A. A. Wood, under the firm name of Wood & Cunningham, and entered into the hardware and crockery business, which he has since conducted. This well-known firm has one of the largest and most substantial business enterprises in Riverside. Their extensive stock of hardware, crockery, tinware, gas fixtures, lamps, etc., is one of the most varied and complete in the county, occupying a double store in the Cunningham block, and also a large wareroom on Eighth Street. Nearly fourteen years ago Mr. Cunningham cast his fortunes with Riverside.
He has been a successful man, and gained a well-deserved competency. This has been done by sound business principles, combined with a straightforward honest dealing that not only gained him the support and patronage of the community, but their respect and esteem as well. He has always been a liberal supporter of enterprises that would build up the city and advance the welfare of the public. He is a director and one of the original incorporators of the Riverside Building and Loan Association. In politics he is a Republican, and his interest in the success of that party has made him a delegate and worker in many of the conventions. He is a charter member of Evergreen Lodge, No. 259, F. & A. M.; also a member of Riverside Chapter, No. 67, R. A. M., and Riverside Commandery, No. 28, Knights Templar. He is a member of Sunnyside Lodge, No. 112, Knights of Pythias, and of the Uniform Rank of that order.
Mr. Cunningham was married in 1879, in Riverside, wedding Miss Susan E. Handy, the daughter of Captain B. B. Handy, a well-known resident of that city. The following are the names of the four children from this marriage: Bessie C., Jack, Eleanor and Marian.