Member of USGenWeb Project USGenWeb logo

Biographies ~ Cunningham, Charles Elliot (1861-1911)
Home Page Image

Charles Elliot Cunningham was born in California November 9, 1861. His father, James Reed Cunningham, born 1830 in Dublin, Ireland, emigrated to the United States with his wife, Sarah. She died in Manton in 1866 so Jake "Pap" Straley raised Charles and his younger brother, who was adopted and known as "Little Jake." Charles became an accountant and worked in Red Bluff and Redding where he met his future wife.

Charlotte "Lottie" Kingsbury was born at Piety Hill, May 12, 1868. She was the middle one of twelve brothers and sisters. She commuted from Igo to Centerville on horseback for her first teaching job, and probably rode horseback to her stints at Ono and South Fork Schools. In 1892 she was teaching and living in Redding where Charles was working in the County Clerks Office.

They were married August 16, 1896, in Igo. Their daughter, Gladys, was born December 23, 1898, in Igo and about the same, time Charles went to work at the Mammoth Mine. They were both very active socially; at least two of the teachers boarded with them--Lucy Stevens Plumb and Vernie Buese. Charles was an amateur photographer, played drums in the local band and ran the projection machine for entertainments in this isolated community. Their son, Charles Adam, was born at Igo on April 28, 1907.

Charles died of a heart attack Janaury 7, 1911, and Charlotte returned to teaching at Anderson. In 1914, Charlotte was elected County Superindent of Schools for the first of three terms. The next year she bought a Model T to visit 106 schools, being the first woman in Shasta county to own her own automobile. During her time in office, she earned credentials at Chico State Normal School because she didn't want to supervise people with more education than she had and she retired from the office in 1926 because she felt a change in leaders would be beneficial to the system. She returned to the classroom, teaching at Pitt 1 and Ingot.

In 1936, Charlottte retired to care for an invalid sister and devoted the rest of her life to her family. She kept house for her, brothers at Igo until the death of her son, Charles, in a prisoner-of- war camp in the Phillippines during WWII.

Her last years were spent with her daughter, Gladys Rose, a teacher in Redding. She enjoyed her three grandchildren and lived to know five of her seven great-grand-children. She died January 25, 1956.

Source: Shasta Historical Society

Return to Bio Index