ELDER VIRGIL GILBERT CUNNINGHAM, son of Elder J. H. Cunningham, was born near Greenwood, Caddo parish, La., October 10, 1844. Professed religion in 1863, while a Confederate prisoner of war on parole. He was a Confederate soldier four years; took part in much hard fighting, and was wounded three times. In 1865 he studied in Mt. Lebanon University. In 1867 took charge of the church in Caldwell, Texas. Was married to Miss Mary Pilgrim of Gonzales in March, 1868, and was ordained the same year. His father preached the ordination sermon. Ordaining elders: Jesse Thomas, Jno. S. Allen, M. Cole, J. G. Gage, J. H. Cunningham and B. H. Carroll. The last named alone survives. Brother Cunningham’s ministry has been given to Natchitoches, La., and Waco, Texas, and neighboring points. He graduated at Baylor University in 1871, while his wife was a teacher in charge of the primary and art departments of the University, and thus was enabled to aid him. His wife was a woman of fine education, of devout and consecrated life. After having her to stand by him for twenty-one years, he gathered their four surviving children, Berta, Mamie, Courtland and Carey, around her dying bed, and held their last family worship. His present wife was Mrs. E. M. Huff, a most excellent Christian lady. With her three children, Nannie, Gussie and Willie, and his four, he claims a preacher’s family of the standard size. The prisoner in jail or camp or public work, and the poor and outcast members of society, have received a brother’s attention at his hand. He is entirely free from that patronizing air which at once erects a rock wall between the poor and his visitor. He has devoted himself mainly to pastoral work, which he feels is his strong point. He has always evinced a spirit of brotherly love for his brother preachers. His uniform good health has encouraged him in the indulgence of a humorous vein. This has occasioned him some anxiety and regret. Being untrained in business management and receiving an inheritance of a few thousand dollars late in life, and the unwise investment of it in stocks and lands, and the immediate depreciation in values, so occupied him in trying to come out honorably, that his preacher’s life for years became overshadowed. While he has lost largely, he has acted honorably, and has a good home and the love of his brethren, and a wide field of labor yet left. He was the first city missionary Waco ever had. He labored in that sphere four years with success. He took an active part in all the early work in the development of Waco Association as a strong missionary body.
He has been liberal with his means in university and mission work, and has done a splendid work by scattering our best books over his field of labor. When he is dead, we will all feel that the loss was that of a friend and brother indeed. He has recently moved to Northwest Texas and is followed by our prayers and best wishes.
Source: J. L. Walker and C. P. Lumpkin, History of the Waco Baptist Association of Texas (Waco: Byrne-Hill Printing House, 1897), pp. 281-283.