Reverend William Joseph Cunningham

Date of Birth: December 9, 1861
Date of Death: September 29, 1937

From the Cunningham Family files of Legacy Keepers Sandra Scott and Janis McCoy

William Joseph “Joe” Cunningham was born on December 9, 1861 in Fayette County, Alabama to Andrew L. Cunningham and Sarah Jane Black Cunningham. He married Rhoda Frances South – the daughter of Tillman South and Jerusha Stewart South. Rhoda was born July 1, 1862 and died July 1, 1897. Joe and Rhoda had three sons. Following Rhoda’s death, Joe married her cousin Sarah Lela Russell (1871 – 1942) and had seven children.

Joe’s son Cosby remembered him as a Missionary Baptist preacher who held many revival meetings and who used to make the round trip from Bluff to Vernon each month, a distance of twenty miles. He received a salary of $1.50 a year but when times were hard, he would sometimes take up a collection also.

Joe was also a farmer who always got up at 4 o’clock every morning and had his breakfast no later than 5 o’clock. Even in much later years when he was too old to farm he always got up early.

Joe died on September 29, 1937 and is buried at Bethel Baptist Church in the Bluff community of Fayette County, Alabama.