After some 20 years the City of Cave Spring is getting its cemetery committee back together. We have a couple of beautiful old cemeteries in need of a little tender loving care.
We’re fortunate to have Stan Rogers, Rome’s cemetery director, and the Georgia Cemetery Association advise us on what needs to be done.
Being an amateur historian with a large interest in the Civil War, I was wondering how many old CSA vets may be at rest in our cemetery. Pat Millican at the library in Rome says she thinks there are 41.
I know W.O. Connor and Felix Corput of the Cherokee Artillery are there, along with some other community leaders. I was scanning through them when I saw this 44-year-old Georgia Militia Sergeant named Green Cunningham. I loved the name right away. I collect names I like for future characters in stories or books. How could you not like Green Cunningham?
In reading through his biography, or what there was of it, I saw mention of his Texas service. “What Texas service?” I thought. He was a Militia Sergeant. He probably fought in the battles around Atlanta, if that.
I make a call to Ann Montgomery and Pete Mathis.
“Do you know where this Green Cunningham is buried?” I asked.
An hour later I’m looking at his marker.
It says he was born in 1817 and left this earth in 1885. He was the son of James Cunningham, I find out, who migrated to Cave Spring around 1830 with his brother Joe from Jackson County, Georgia. It seems like they were friends of the Vanns and followed them into the valley.
Brother Joe soon moved on to Alabama and settled in Talledega, near where the speedway is today.
Henry Cunningham, one of Joe’s sons, recruited some local boys to head to Texas. It was 1834. The daughters of the Alamo verify that Henry and one of his brothers were at San Jacinto with Sam Houston. There is another Cunningham there that has yet to be identified. It may be Green. We’re not sure at this time, but I have a sneaking feeling it is.
He is listed on the muster rolls of Captain Caldwell’s company of Rangers in 1839 fighting Comanche. and in 1839, the Comanche still owned about a third of Texas and they would kill you. Fighting them was not for sport or the faint of heart. He is also mentioned in a couple of journals, along with a William or “Bill” Cunningham.
In December of 1839, he was awarded 320 acres along the San Marcos River near Gonzalez, Texas, for his service. In his will, he leaves a two-thirds interest in 502 acres of Texas land to his sister in Mississippi.
Yes sir, ole Green Cunningham was a Texas Ranger.
“Wait a minute, Mike. Maybe there was another Cunningham named Green.”
I thought about that. Here’s what I was sent from Texas. In the May 14, 1874, Waco Examiner, there is a small article about a bunch of Baptist excursionists from back east gathering in Waco. That’s where Baylor University is located, still a strong Baptist school.
The article said many were first-time visitors to the state, but it also says that others are returning after a long absence. It says Mr. Green Cunningham of Floyd County, Georgia, one of the heroes of Texas independence is back after 22 years. That’s good enough for me.
What is it about the Texas Rangers that makes the American public think so highly of them? They rival, if not exceed, the FBI in popularity. I mean, good grief, John Wayne was a Texas Ranger in “The Comancheros,” and there were Rangers in “The Searchers” and “True Grit.”
“The Lone Ranger” was a radio program, then a black-and-white TV show. Clayton Moore toured the nation having his picture took with every kid in the country. Clint Eastwood is a Ranger in “A Perfect World” with Kevin Costner, and there are Rangers in “The Outlaw Josey Wales.”
“Lone Wolf McQuade,” starring Chuck Norris, was the toughest Ranger ever. He followed that with the series “Walker, Texas Ranger.” Have you noticed how the tough guys play Rangers?
I can’t name them all, but I counted over 75 movies where the Rangers were featured or at least were in the film. During the “B” western heyday, there were 58 movies just in the World War II era that had Texas Rangers in them.
Who can forget retired Ranger Captains Augustus “Gus” McRae and Woodrow F. Call, played by Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in “Lonesome Dove?” What a great miniseries.
There is still a lot of work to be done on the Cunningham family, as there is on all of our cemetery residents. Many folks in Cave Spring have tons of information about their relatives buried here. Soon there will be some new software being created that will be second to none, and we hope we can accumulate as much information as possible about our cemeteries.
Best guess right now is that Green, who came back to Cave Spring and got extremely wealthy, owned a big farm where Highway 411 and Cunningham Road are now. I was told it was where the old Wind Wood swimming pool would be built in later years.
Green married Jincy Ware. She was a few years older than he was and died a few years before he did. They had no children, but funded and sent many a young person away to school from the Vann’s Valley and Cave Spring areas.
Green was a trustee at the “Cherokee Female Academy,” later to become Shorter College. He stressed education strongly in his later years and worked tirelessly to provide it.
For all you native Texans living in Rome and Floyd County, you have an old Ranger watching from the highest point of the Cave Spring Cemetery. He’s still on sentinel duty. No, he isn’t looking for Santa Anna’s troops or the Comanche.
I think he’s there to make sure we abide by the law of the land, and hopes we obey the Scriptures, assist in education and help those less fortunate than we are.
His stone is in need of a good cleaning, which it’s going to get. It could use a foot stone for his Texas and CSA service, which it’s also going to get. When you can, drop by for a visit. It’s kind of peaceful.
Standing there looking at his marker, with the wind blowing from the west, I can hear the words of Captain Woodrow Call as he says, “I won’t tolerate rude behavior.”
I don’t think Green Cunningham would either.