John Milton Cunningham. Of the men who have long lent dignity and progressiveness to the business of ranching and farming in Osage County none are held in higher esteem than is John Milton Cunningham, who is now a resident of Caney and one of that city’s leading and influential citizens. During a long and successful career he has been identified prominently with financial matters in several parts of the country, but has always returned to agriculture as a vocation, and in this calling has found his greatest measure of prosperity.
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Mr. Cunningham was born in the City of Louisville, Kentucky, November 10, 1857, and is a son of Robert Morrison and Annie Elizabeth (Milton) Cunningham. His father was born in Green County, Alabama, March 13, 1829, and as a lad was taken to Louisville, Kentucky, in the schools of which city he was given a good education. His parents were Joseph Parks and Elizabeth F. (Webb) Cunningham, and he was brought up to habits of industry and honesty. Early becoming interested in financial affairs, he was connected with banking all of his life, and at the time of his death, November 25, 1878, was cashier of the First National Bank of Louisville, of which he had been the organizer. Mr. Cunningham was a deacon in the Presbyterian Church and one of his city’s substantial and highly respected citizens. He was married at Louisville, November 7, 1854, to Annie Elizabeth Milton, who was born at Lexington, Kentucky, January 15, 1832, and died at Louisville, February 22, 1895, and they became the parents of the following children: Bettie Scott, born December 27, 1855, who passed her life at Louisville and died September 18, 1890; John Milton, of this notice; Robert Morrison, born September 11, 1859, a wholesale lumber merchant of Louisville, married October 19, 1886, Frances Marmaduke Barnett, who was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky, July 5, 1862, daughter of Judge Andrew Barnett.
On his mother’s side of the family, Mr. Cunningham is descended from one of the oldest families in America, and one which originated in England. A Richard Milton is mentioned in land grants recorded in the State Land Office of Virginia, for the years 1636 and 1638, given to him at Westover, in Charles County, on the James River, and it is possible and even probable that this early settler was the grandfather of Richard Milton, the great-great-great-grandfather of Mr. Cunningham. This latter Richard Milton and his wife, Eliza, were living in Richmond County, Virginia, about the year 1720. On August 10, 1725, a tract of 454 acres in “Stafford county on Buck Hall ranch of Occaquan,” was granted to “Richard Melton of Richmond County.” This part of Stafford County soon afterward became Prince William County, and Richard Milton’s death occurred here about the year 1733.
Richard Milton, son of Richard and Eliza Milton, was born about 1715. He inherited from his father a tract of land “adjoining Couper’s Cabin Branch” in Prince William County, Virginia, where he lived and reared a family of nine children. His wife, whose name is mentioned in deeds along with his, was Margaret Ross, and it is said that she came of a Scotch family of that name in Pennsylvania. Her grand-children remembered her as being tall, spare and very neat in dress and appearance. She lived to be about ninety-five years of age, and when a very old lady was still able to ride on horseback to the home of her son, Elijah, making the distance of forty miles in one day. She was born about 1716 and died in 1811. Shortly after the Revolutionary war, Richard Milton removed to Kentucky with his wife, his son, Moses, and his married daughters, and settled on the Chaplin Fork of Salt River, in Nelson County. There he died about the year 1800.
Elijah Milton, son of Richard and Margaret (Ross) Milton, and great-grandfather of Mr. Cunningham, was born in Prince William County, Virginia, December 23, 1755, and died in Fayette County, Kentucky, November 10, 1833. He was married at Green Hill, Frederick County, Virginia, January 28, 1794, to Catherine Taylor, who was born at Green Hill, June 9, 1776. She died in Fayette County, Kentucky, July 29, 1828. Elijah Milton is said to have served as master of army wagons during the Revolutionary war, being closely associated with General Rochambeau during the latter part of the struggle for American independence. When he removed to Kentucky, about 1792, he took up lands on Elk Horn Creek, in Fayette County, about eight miles west of Lexington, and there passed the remainder of his life as a farmer.
John Milton, son of Elijah and Catherine (Taylor) Milton, and maternal grandfather of Mr. Cunningham, was born in Fayette County, Kentucky, March 24, 1802, and died at Baltimore, Maryland, November 18, 1860. He was married in Frederick County, Virginia, September 7, 1826, to Louisa Ann Taylor, his first cousin, who was born in Loudoun County, Virginia, September 5, 1807, and died at Louisville, Kentucky, April 6, 1869. Mr. Milton was cashier of the Northern Bank of Kentucky, and an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
John Milton Cunningham received his education in the public schools of Louisville and a college at Danville, Kentucky, and in 1875 received his initiation in the banking business as a clerk in the First National Bank of his native city, with which he remained four years. He then accepted a clerkship in the offices of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and continued with that road until November 1, 1884, when he came to Independence, Kansas, and for two years was bookkeeper for the First National Bank of that city. For the four years that followed Mr. Cunningham lived on his ranch in Osage County, during which time he and Mrs. Cunningham controlled some 12,000 acres of rich farming country. Returning to financial matters, he came to Caney, where he assisted in the organization of the Home National Bank, of which he was made assistant cashier, and, becoming cashier shortly thereafter, remained in that capacity for about two years: At that time Mr. Cunningham went to San Angelo, Texas, where he was at the head of a private banking house for one year, and then came back to Caney, which has since been his home.
Mr. Cunningham is the owner of a handsome modern residence at the corner of Third Avenue and High Street. While he has a number of important business connections, he devotes his time chiefly to the management of his ranch, which consists of 500 acres of farming land and 1,200 acres of pasture in Osage County, just across the Montgomery County line from Caney. He is a republican in his political views, and has served as treasurer of the Caney School Board. Fraternally he is a member of Camp No. 941, Modern Woodmen of America, and both he and Mrs. Cunningham are prominent and popular in social circles of Caney.
While a resident of Independence, Kansas, February 18, 1886, Mr. Cunningham was married to Miss Rose Irene Brown, who was born at Carey, Ohio, August 22, 1865. To this union there have been born four children, as follows: William Brown, born at Independence, December 21, 1886, who died at Caney, June 13, 1887; John Milton, born at Independence, August 19, 1888, who married May 6, 1914, Miss Lillian Miller, of Kansas City, Missouri; Robert Brown, born April 6, 1899, at Caney; and Robert Morris, born at Caney, November 3, 1900, who died January 13, 1901.