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Biography of George Newton Cunningham

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George Newton Cunningham. No one family name has been so long identified with the drug business in Champaign County as that of Cunningham. In almost pioneer times, in 1854, Albert Palmer Cunningham came West to Champaign County and located at Urbana, where he found employment in a bank and was later engaged in the drug business. He had a practical but no technical knowledge of pharmacy and he had a very successful establishment at Urbana for many years. In 1880 he removed his store to Champaign, and the business has been carried on by him or his sons in that city for over thirty-five years.

Albert Palmer Cunningham was born in New York State August 11, 1832, and died at Champaign October 12, 1893. He married Ophelia Jane Segar, who was born in Huron County, Ohio, May 26, 1835, and died June 23, 1896. Albert P. Cunningham was a man of note in Champaign County and at one time served as mayor of Urbana. He was a brother of Judge J. O. Cunningham. Albert Cunningham also was a gallant soldier in the Civil War, serving with Company G of the Seventy-sixth Illinois Infantry. He was mustered out as lieutenant of his company.

Albert P. Cunningham and wife had seven children: Frank, Addie and Herbert, all now deceased; Elmer S., born February 10, 1865, and a resident of Indianapolis; George N.; Clara B., born August 25, 1869, now wife of C. S. Bouton of Springdale, Arkansas; and Edwin Ralph, born July 29, 1873, and associated with his brother, George N., in the drug business at Champaign.

George Newton Cunningham, who became associated in the drug business with his father and has since continued the enterprise on a larger scale, was born at Urbana, Illinois, December 24, 1867. For three years he had the advantages of the University of Illinois and is thoroughly well educated. In 1888, at the age of twenty-one, he entered his father’s store as a partner, under the firm name of A. P. Cunningham & Son. This title was continued until his father’s death. Later his brother, Edwin Ralph, entered the business and together they have been able to broaden trade and build up a business which is now one of the most important in the city. The store had always handled sundries and stationery, but they made the stationery business something of a special department and also handled school books and school supplies. In 1916 they built a branch store at the corner of Wright and Green streets, near the university grounds. Thus they have made the trade of the university accessible. At that location they built a two-story modern brick building 60×132 feet, and besides their other business they established there the Illini Bank, of which George N. Cunningham is president and his brother manager. Besides a general stock of stationery they carry magazines, current literature and a complete line of text books used in the university.

George N. Cunningham served one term as city treasurer of Champaign. He is active in the Business Men’s Club, is a Republican, and is affiliated with the Knights of Pythias, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Sons of Veterans. He was married August 9, 1899, to Miss Alice Miller, a native of Champaign, and daughter of Edward Payson and Augusta (Segar) Miller. Both parents are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham have two children: Eunice, born August 15, 1903; and Newton Miller, born April 17, 1908.

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