Samuel Blair Cunningham, M.D. (1797 - 1867)

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Birthplace: Limestone, Washington, Tennessee, USA
Death: Died in Jonesboro, Washington, Tennessee, USA
Managed by: Erica Howton, (c)
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About Samuel Blair Cunningham, M.D.

        "In 1837 the subject of railroads was agitated throughout East Tennessee.  One plan was to build a railroad along the course the South and Western is now taking.  another was from Cincinnati via Cumberland Gap to Charleston, S.C.  The latter road secured a charter about 1838.  But it was Dr. S. B. Cunningham, of Jonesboro, who finally engineered and built the road from Knoxville to Bristol. In 1847 those interested in building the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia railroad had frequent meetings at Jonesboro and framed their charter.  The names of those who would solicit subscription for the road, and the commissioners selected to receive money and issue stock in the E. T. & V. R. R. were set out in their charter.  The charter was granted and signed by the proper authorities January 27, 1848.  Two years' time was given for organizing the company.  In 1849 John Blair was elected on the democratic ticket as a railroad man, to  get an extension of the charter, and this was done every year until 185__, when, by the suggestion of Dr. S. B. Cunningham, thirty men bound themselves to finish the road.  The amount of stock these thirty men shouldered was nearly $500,000, over and above what they had already subscribed to the road.  This act of the thirty men saved the charter of the East Tennessee & Virginia railroad, and then the state complied with its part of the contract.

"Dr. Cunningham lifted the first shovel of dirt and drove the last spike when the road was completed.  He give up a large practice and took the presidency of the East Tennessee & Virginia railroad at a very small salary, devoting his w_____ time to the construction equipment and management of the road.  He was constantly at work for seven years and forty five days before he saw his dream of a railroad through the valley of East Tennessee.  When this road was completed in 1858 , it meant rails all the way from Chattanooga to Lynchburg.  The first engine bought by the E. T. & Va. railroad company was named  'The Watauga.'  In August, 1855, 'The Holston' was bought.  The Washington, Jefferson, Greeneville, Boaz, Jonesboro, S. Cunningham, McDaniel, Sullivan, Knoxville, City of Memphis, Bristol and Ross were engines bought before the Civil War.

        "The 'Boaz' was run off the Loudon bridge into the Tennessee river by the federal troops and was so badly damaged it had to be sold for old iron.  The 'Bristol' was run off of the bridge at Carter's depot into the Watauga river in 1863, and was taken out after the war, reparied at a cost of $8,000.  It did good work for several years.

        "Dr. Cunningham refused to serve longer as president of the railroad and in January, 1861, John R. Branner was elected president, and served in that capacity until his death, February 8, 1869.  Thomas H. Calloway was his successor.  Thus, the East Tennessee & Virginia railroad had three presidents.  It was consolidated with the East Tennessee & Georgia railroad during Mr. Callaway's administration.

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Samuel Cunningham, M.D.'s Timeline

1797
October 9, 1797
Limestone, Washington, Tennessee, USA
1824
August 18, 1824
Age 26
1825
August 3, 1825
Age 27
1835
1835
Age 37
1836
1836
Age 38
1842
1842
Age 44
1846
1846
Age 48
1848
1848
Age 50
1851
1851
Age 53
1853
1853
Age 55