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John T. Cunningham Papers

Identifier: 2010.012

Scope and Contents

The John T. Cunningham Papers house the personal and professional papers of John T. Cunningham. This collection, which dates from 1918-1944, consists of correspondence, telegrams, financial statements, bills of sale, and receipts of John T. Cunningham. The bulk of the collection is made up of correspondence and documents Cunningham’s professional and political connections.


  • 1918 - 1944


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

While the Montgomery County Archives houses an item, it does not necessarily hold the copyright on the item, nor may it be able to determine if the item is still protected under current copyright law. It is the user’s obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical / Historical

John T. (Talley) Cunningham was a prominent politician in Tennessee in the early twentieth century. He was born on August 12, 1877 in Dickson County, Tennessee to John Cunningham and Minna Weems Cunningham. He went on to attend Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville and graduated in 1899. Following his graduation he practiced law for several years in Clarksville, Tennessee before deciding to jump into politics. In 1904 he ran for Montgomery County’s seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives. He won the election and took office in 1905. He served two terms, and was elected Speaker of the House in 1907.

Although Cunningham had a successful legal and political career, he maintained close ties with the agricultural roots of the community. When he returned to Clarksville in 1909 after leaving the Tennessee House of Representatives he continued to practice law while running his farm, Minglewood. He maintained the farm throughout the rest of his career, primarily growing strawberries, hay, and straw based on surviving farm records. He also helped to found the Eastern Dark-Fired Tobacco Growers Association.

In 1918 Cunningham ran for the position of county judge in Montgomery County against C.W. Tyler. He was successful in his bid, and served in that role until his death in 1945. Over the course of his political career he developed a wide network of political connections that stretched to Washington, DC. As evidenced by a portion of the correspondence in this collection, he used these connections to find government positions for family friends during the Great Depression, and to advocate for tobacco farmers affected by federal farm regulations.

This collection also includes some personal correspondence with his uncles James Newell Cunningham and Hugh D. Cunningham. Much of the correspondence deals with financial affairs and is evidence of John T. Cunningham’s influential position within the family. Unfortunately, this portion of the collection only offers limited insights into his relationship with his extended family and does not touch on his immediate family at all. He married Sarah White of Nashville, Tennessee in 1907, and the couple had two daughters and two sons. He died on December 8, 1945 in Clarksville after a brief illness, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.


0.417 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Arranged in five series: I. Family Papers and Correspondence, ca. 1935-1944. II. Personal Papers & Correspondence, 1929-1931. III. Business Papers & Correspondence, 1930-1940. IV. Professional Correspondence, 1918-1937. V. Political Correspondence, 1929-1937.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Howard Winn via Mrs. A.J. Pierce.

Related Materials

Additional materials from the Cunningham family can be found with the Cunningham Brothers Receipts and Assorted Papers, 2008.004.

Processing Information

During the processing of this collection, paper clips, and staples were removed from the papers. A number of typed documents were brittle and in extremely fragile condition were photocopied onto acid-free paper. The originals were removed from the collection. There was no observable order to the materials prior to processing and they have been arranged into series based on the subject matter of the documents.

Guide to the John T. Cunningham Papers
Under Revision
Jenna Stout
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Montgomery County Archives Repository

350 Pageant Lane
Suite 101D
Clarksville Tennessee 30741 United States