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David grew up in the northeastern part of Spencer, Massachusetts. His father bought land in "Township No. 5" in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, perhaps with the idea that his sons David and John, Jr., would settle there. They bought it from their father in 1770, each taking 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. There's no known record of David and Elizabeth Beal's marriage, but it was surely in "Plantation No. 5," which became the town of Cummington, about 1778. That was also the home of her parents.
     David joined the militia company of Cummington resident Lieut. Joseph Warner as a "Minute Man." They marched on 21 April 1775 in response to the British attack at Lexington and Concord.4 The company was at Concord in late April, where at least some of the company, including David, were absorbed into the 17th Massachusetts "New England Army" regiment, a part of what would become the United States army. Army organization was juggled and the 17th became the 8th Regiment of Foot in August 1775. They joined the Siege of Boston in Roxbury and Dorchester. On 26 May, to create a better command order, what was known as the New England Army officially became the "Continental" Army. No record has been found of how long David served, but he's on a muster roll in the same company at Dorchester as late as November 1775. He was in a regiment raised in Plantation No. 5 to respond to the alarm of the Battle of Bennington. The battle was on 16 August 1777. The company was formed the day after and discharged on 22 August, communication at the time being slow.
     The Cunninghams farmed in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains for over 20 years. After the Revolution, a mass 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 1799.5 He appears there with a house and farm in 1799 in the first state-wide tax assessment record.6 The exact site of their home hasn't been found, but it's no longer standing. David and Elizabeth are buried under delicately carved headstones in the Hillside Cemetery, located on a knoll with panoramic views of the countryside.

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 Bible7):

i. Elizabeth b. 8 November 1779*
ii. Anna b. 30 May 1781*
iii. Huldah b. 28 November 1782,* d. 9/4/1836 (not married, buried beside her parents)
iv. Azubah b. 31 August 1784,* no further record (Zubial in the C. Bible)
v. John b. 15 February 1786*
vi. David b. ca1788-9 (C. Bible only record; censuses indicate his birth must be placed here)
Abigail b. late 1780s or maybe abt 1795 (C. Bible only record, the 1790 and 1800 censuses contradict)
Sarah b. late 1780s or maybe abt 1795 (C. Bible only record, the 1790 and 1800 censuses contradict)
(Mary?/)Polly b. prob. December 1791

vital records sources: his birth is from "Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988," database online, Spencer, Birth, Marriages and Death [sic], image 156, original mss not paginated. See also Vital records of Spencer, Massachusetts, to the end of the year 1849 (Worcester:Franklin P. Rice, 1909), 34. His death date is on his gravestone in Twilight Rest (formerly Hillside) Cemetery, Richfield, NY.

1. Hampden County, MA, deeds, 9:217, 9:218, 10:226, 10:228.
2. Only One Cummington... (Cummington:1974), p. 352.
5. Otsego Co., NY, deeds, E:518-519.
6. "New York Tax Assessment Rolls of Real and Personal Estates, 1799-1804," database online.
7.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 wouldn't have made.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted