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vital records sources
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John Cunningham of Spencer, Massachusetts, bought land in Township No. 5," perhaps with the idea that his sons David and John, Jr., would settle there. They bought this land from their father in 1770, each acquiring pairs of lots, when David is described as already living there.1
     The land David bought in 1770 and more adjacent to it in 1773 was likely the property on which he later lived with his family. Only One Cummington2 reports that the house on this property burned in 1827, and the house that replaced it was built in a similar form. Illustrated in the above book, it was in the "Cape Cod" style, which, although with Greek Revival style woodwork of the period, might have reflected the appearance of the Cunningham house in shape and openings. The later house might have built on the Cunningham's foundation. The Cunninghams were next door neighbors of Dr. Peter Bryant, father of William Cullen Bryant. The Bryant Homestead is now a preserved historic site. Peter was a witness to one of the Cunningham's deeds.
     There is no known record of David and Elizabeth's marriage, but it was undoubtedly in Cummington and at the very beginning of vital records being kept there. The Town Clerk recorded their children's births as a group about 1786, but their younger children were very likely born there as well.
     David enlisted in the Revolutionary War on 21 April 1775 as a “Minute Man” in response to the British attack at Lexington and Concord. He was in the company of Capt. Abel Thayer in Col. John Fellows 17th Regiment of Massachusetts militia. The company was at Concord on the 28th, where at least some of the company, including David, joined the 8th Regiment of the Continental Army. They participated in the Siege of Boston in Roxbury and Dorchester. No record has been found of how long he served, but he is on a muster roll in the same company at Dorchester as late as 7 November 1775. He was in Capt. William Ward's Company of Col. Ezra May's Regiment, raised in "Plantation No. 5" of Hampshire County to respond to the alarm of the Battle of Bennington. The battle started on 16 August 1777. The company was raised the day after and discharged on 22 August.3
     The Cunninghams farmed in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains for over 20 years. After the Revolution a massive migration took place west from New England. The fertile land of Central New York that became available for settlement attracted thousands of settlers and many Cummington families moved there. The Cunninghams settled in Richfield in Otsego County by the time David bought land there in 1799.4 They appear there in the Federal Census of 1800. The site of their home hasn't been found, but it certainly is no longer standing. Although the Cunningham's were joined by other settlers, it was a wilderness. The houses generally were pioneer cabins made of logs. David and Elizabeth are buried under delicately carved headstones in the Hillside Cemetery, located on a knoll with panoramic views of the countryside. A history of Richfield seems to place this cemetery near a Congregational Church, which was not long lived and is no longer standing.

copyright 2003, Doug Sinclair

David's gravestone in Hillside (now Twilight Rest) Cemetery, Richfield, NY

children of David Cunningham and Elizabeth Beal (*Cummington vital records, otherwise in the Cunningham family Bible5):

i. Elizabeth b. 8 November 1779* m. Nathan Hawkes
ii. Anna b. 30 May 1781* m. Daniel Sprague
iii. Huldah b. 28 November 1782* d. 9/4/1836 (not married, buried beside her parents)
iv. Azubah b. 31 August 1784* (Zubial in the C. Bible; Azubah is a Biblical female)
v. John b. 15 February 1786*
David b. ca1788-9 (C. Bible only record; censuses indicate his birth must be placed here), m. Phebe Bloomfield
Abigail b. late 1780s or maybe abt 1795 (C. Bible only record)
Sarah b. late 1780s or maybe abt 1795 (C. Bible only record)
(Mary?/)Polly b. prob. December 1791, m. Samuel Bloomfield

vital records sources: David's birth record is in Vital records of Spencer, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849 (Worcester:Franklin P. Rice, 1909), p. 34, and his death date is on his gravestone in Richfield, NY. He died "in his 70th year," meaning he was 69.

1. Hampden County, MA, deeds, John Cunningham of Spencer, grantee, 9:217, 9:218, 10:226, 10:228.
2. Otsego Co., NY, deeds, E:518-519.
3. Only One Cummington... (Cummington:1974), p. 352.
4. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution (Boston: 1896), 4:227, 230.
5. The Cunningham Bible has a family record, written in several different hands, no birth dates for these siblings. It was likely written by Horatia B. Cunningham since there are errors that her mother would not have made. The name given of the wife of David Cunningham is Ann Beale.

all text and photographs © 1998-2019 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted