W.H.. CUNNINGHAM, one of the leading merchants of Polo, and vice-president of the Exchange Bank of the same city, was born in Washington county, Maryland, May 20, 1841, and is the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Sprickler) Cunningham, both of whom were natives of Washington county, Maryland, the former born in 1808, and the latter in 1822. Joseph Cunningham was the son of David Cunningham, also anative of Maryland, and who followed the occupation of a cooper during his entire life. In his family were six sons and two daughters.
In the common schools of his native state Joseph Cunningham obtained his education, and at the age of twenty-two years went into the mercantile business, opening up a general store at Cunningham's Cross Roads, now Cearfoss, Maryland. He continued in that business for nearly forty years, retiring from the same about fifteen years before his death, which occurred December 15, 1875. He was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Sprickler, by whom he had eleven children, four only now living — W. H., Andrew, Miley and Mary. With the exception of two, all died young. Those two were John, who died at the age of sixty years, and George, when fifty-six years old. The mother is yet living in Washington county, Maryland. In politics Joseph Cunningham was an old line Whig until the organization of the Republican party, when he gave adhesion to that organization, the principles of which he advocated during the remainder of his life. For some years he served as justice of the peace, and also school director a number of years.
The common schools of his native county afforded the only opportunity for our subject to obtain an education, but he made the best use of his opportunities until he was sixteen years old, when he quit the school room that he might begin in earnest the battle of life. One year later, in 1858, became to Ogle county, and for two years worked on a farm owned by Henry Newcomer. At the expiration of that time he went to Polo and commenced clerking in the grocery store of H. N. Murray, the same store and in the same line of business in which hehimself is now engaged. For five and a half years he continued in Mr. Murray's employ, and then, in partnership with John Bingaman, purchased the stock of the Murray estate and continued the business. This partnership lasted for nineteen and a half years, when Mr. Bingaman withdrew, since which time he has continued alone.
On the 15th of June, 1868, Mr. Cunningham was united in marriage with Miss Deliah Sanford, who was born in Buffalo township, and daughter of Harrison and Bridget (Deyo) Sanford, the former born in Middletown, Delaware county, New York, February 16, 1812, and who died July 1, 1866, and the latter born in the same county and state, March 14, 1814, and who died October 19, 1869. They were married in 1835. Harrison Sanford came west in 1835 in company of a party of New York people, and took up some land in Buffalo township, and followed farming for a number of years. He then went to Oldtown and established a hotel there, which he ran until 1854, when he came to Polo and built a hotel where the Exchange National Bank now stands, and called it the Sanford House. He occupied that house for some years. In 1870 the building was torn down, and the present building erected by the stockholders of the Exchange National Bank, of which Mr. Cunningham is vice-president.
To Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham four children have been born: Cora is living at home with her parents. F. S. is assisting his father in the store. Fannie married Frank Brown, and they have two children. They reside in Sycamore, where he is engaged in the grocery and drug business. Carrie died May 7, 1891, at the age of seventeen years.
In addition to his mercantile business, Mr. Cunningham has been connected withthe Exchange National Bank since it was organized, April 15, 1871, being one of its charter members. Since 1885 he has filled the office of vice-president of the same. He is a good business man, conservative in all things, and has the entire confidence of the business community. In politics he is a Republican, but not a partisan. Fraternally he is a Mason, holding membership with blue lodge at Polo, and the commandery at Dixon.
Biographical Record of Ogle County
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