Biography of William L. Cunningham

William L. Cunningham. The relations of William L. Cunningham with Arkansas City cover a successful record as a lawyer, important service in the Legislature, and the activities of a self-made man of affairs, who can be depended upon by clients and the public in general for the exertion of solid ability and public thrift whenever those qualities are needed.

Mr. Cunningham is a native of Kansas, born in the historic old Town of Auburn, December 24, 1876. The Cunningham ancestors were Scotch-Irish and were settlers in New York in colonial times. His father is E. L. Cunningham, now living retired at Auburn. Born in Ohio in February, 1832, he grew up and married in that state, became a farmer there, and was a pioneer in Shawnee County, Kansas, where he homesteaded 160 acres near Auburn in 1866. He put in a long succession of industrious years on his farm and in community affairs, and since 1897 had lived retired. In politics he followed the fortunes of the democratic party. E. L. Cunningham married Julia Kendall, who was born in Darke County, Ohio, in 1841. Their children were seven in number. Hettie is the wife of John Garrett, a contractor at Klamath Falls, Washington. Henry is a cattle buyer living at Auburn. Marshall is a farmer at Auburn. The fourth in age is William L. Cunningham. Guy is a farmer at Auburn. Clifford is also a lawyer, practicing at Centralia, Washington. He graduated from the Washburn College with the degree A. B. and had his degree LL. B. from Washington State University. Earl is a resident of Topeka and clerk in the Crosby Dry Goods Store.

William L. Cunningham spent his early life on his father’s farm, attended the public schools at Auburn and received his higher education in that well known Kansas institute, Washburn College at Topeka. He represented his college in the state oratorical contest in 1898, and was a member of the first debating team sent out by Washburn College, winning from Drury College, Missouri. He was graduated A. B. in 1898, and while getting ready to practice law he taught school two years as principal of the high school at Neosho Falls. While teaching he carried on a course of law studies in Judge Guthrie’s office at Topeka and was admitted to the bar in 1901. Since then Mr. Cunningham had been identified with the Arkansas City bar and he began practice February 1, 1901. He had had both a general civil and criminal practice and for two years was deputy county attorney. His offices are in the Union State Bank Building.

His private practice had engrossed most of his time and attention, but in 1906 he was elected on the republican ticket a member of the State Legislature and was re-elected in 1908. During his first term he was speaker pro tem of the House. In the second term he was a member of the judiciary committee and in the first term was on the ways and means committee.

Mr. Cunningham owned his residence at 903 North Third Street. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and a trustee, is affiliated with Arkansas City Lodge No. 89, Ancient Order of United Workmen; Walnut Camp No. 71, Woodmen of the World; and Arkansas City Lodge No. 972, Loyal Order of Moose. He also belongs to the Kansas State Bar Association and the Commercial Law League of America.

Mr. Cunningham is married and had a happy family. He was married in Arkansas City in 1904 to Miss Leola Bellamy. Mrs. Cunningham was formerly a teacher of schools. Four children have been born to their marriage: William, born in 1905; Julianna, born in 1911; Carol, born in 1913; and Richard, born September 14, 1916.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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