Christopher Columbus Cunningham, Sr.

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Christopher Columbus Cunningham, Sr.

Birthdate: (72)
Birthplace: Spotsylvania, Virginia
Death: November 11, 1782 (68-76)
Washington, Tennessee, United States
Place of Burial: Johnson City, Washington County, Tennesee
Immediate Family:

Son of Alexander Cunningham, Sr. and Lydia Elizabeth Cunningham
Husband of Susannah Cunningham and Mary Ann Cunningham
Father of Reverend Aron Cunningham; Susannah Robertson; Christopher Cunningham, Jr.; Elizabeth Gatril; Ann Hollis and 14 others
Half brother of Alexander Cunningham; George Cunningham and David Cunningham

Occupation: frontiersman; farmer
Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About Christopher Columbus Cunningham, Sr.

Christopher Columbus Cunningham, Sr. was born in 1710 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He died on 11 Nov 1782 in Washington County, Tennessee. He was buried in family plot near Milleton College, Johnson City, Tennessee. His will dated November 10, 1782 was probated in the May court 1783.

He has DAR Ancestor #: A028621 (see attachment) for his participation in the Watauga Association, about which President Theodore Roosevelt later wrote:

"[the Watauga settlers were the] first men of American birth to establish a free and independent community on the continent." [1]

Christopher Cunningham lived first in Shenandoah County, , Virginia. He moved to Augusta County, , Virginia, and then settled in Washington County, North Carolina, later Tennessee.

  1. Married: Susannah Patton
  2. Married: Mary Musgrove

Children of Christopher Cunningham and Susannah Patton:

  1. Christopher Columbus Cunningham II, b. Abt. 1731, d. Bef. 27 Aug 1781.
  2. Elizabeth Cunningham, b. Abt. 1732, d. date unknown.
  3. Susannah Cunningham, b. Abt. 1734, d. date unknown.

Children of Christopher Cunningham and Mary Musgrove:

  1. Lydia Cunningham, b. Abt. 1752, d. 1800, Missouri
  2. John Cunningham, b. Abt. 1754, d. 09 Mar 1812, Washington County, Tennessee
  3. Mary Cunningham, b. Abt. 1756, d. date unknown, Missouri
  4. Jane Cunningham, b. Abt. 1757, d. 1818, Carter County, Tennessee
  5. Sarah Cunningham, b. Abt. 1757, d. date unknown.
  6. Ann Cunningham, b. Abt. 1758, d. date unknown.
  7. Jacob Cunningham, b. Abt. 1759, d. Bef. 1852.
  8. Joseph Cunningham, b. 03 Nov 1767, Tennessee, d. 21 May 1858, Sweetwater, Monroe County, Tennessee
  9. Moses Cunningham, b. 14 May 1771, Carter County, Tennessee, d. Aft. 1850, Sevier or Blount County, Tennessee.
  10. Matthew Cunningham, b. 18 Jan 1772, d. Aft. 1852, Texas
  11. Aaron Cunningham, b. 14 May 1774, d. Abt. 1845, Hardin County, Tennessee.
  12. David Roe Cunningham, b. Oct 1775, Virginia, d. Bef. 1831, Hampton, Elizabeth City County, Virginia.



Pages 3 & 4, Book 1 (names A-D), Washington County TN Wills, 1775-1875

Christopher Cunningham 10 Nov 1782 In the state of North Carolina.

To wife Mary: one third of all my household goods and moveables with one third part of all lands and tenements.

To my fifteen children: Elizabeth Gatril, Susanna Robertson, Lydia Cunningham, John Cunningham, Mary Job, Ann Orr, Sarah Cunningham, Jane Cunningham, Jacob Cunningham, Joseph Cunningham, Matthew Cunningham, Moses Cunningham, Aaron Cunningham, Alinar [Elinor] Cunningham, David Cunningham: equally divide all lands and tenements.

Daughters Elizabeth and Susanna are to have no part of the legacy that John Mesgroves left to Mary.

Lands to be undivided until the youngest child comes of age.

Executors: Mattew Talbot, Joseph Tipton. Witnesses: Robert Orr, Isaac Taylor.


Watauga Association

"Old Christopher" is perhaps the most famous Cunningham as far as American History is concerned. He lived in York County, Virginia, Shenandoah County, Virginia, Augusta Co, VA, Washington Co, North Carolina which later became part of Franklin or Tennessee.

He had the 32nd Watauga Association patent for land in Eastern Tennessee in 1775 and signed the petition in 1776 requesting to be annexed to North Carolina.

Christpher probably came into that section in the 1760's. The SETTLEMENT in Washington County, North Carolina was named Watauga Settlement and CHRISTOPHER Cunningham helped to ESTABLISH it. Both he and Christopher Jr . were DRAFTERS & SIGNERS of the Watauga Compact.

This was an independent COLONY for four years until the influx of outlaws and renegades made it impossible for the settlers to preserve law and order for themselves. They petitioned NOrth Carolina for annexation in 1776. Both Christopher Senior and Junior sigend the petition. It was granted and the settlement became Wahington County, North Carolina. Old Washington County Court Records and old land grants show that Christpher held much LAND and was very active in CIVIC affairs. Both Christophers left LARGE ESTATES in their death. Signers of the Watauga Petition have been accepted as Patriots of the American Revolution by D.A.R., S.A.R.

The Watauga Association (sometimes referred to as the Republic of Watauga) was a semi-autonomous government created in 1772 by frontier settlers along the Watauga River in what is now the U.S. state of Tennessee. Although it lasted less than a decade, the Association provided a basis for what later developed into the state of Tennessee and likely influenced other frontier governments in the Trans-Appalachian region. In 1778, after North Carolina annexed the Watauga settlements, the Watauga Association was replaced by a county government.

While there is no evidence that the Watauga Association ever claimed to be outside the domain of the British Crown, historians have often cited the Association as the earliest attempt by American-born colonists to form an independent democratic government. In 1774, Virginia governor Lord Dunmore called the Watauga Association a "dangerous example" of Americans forming a government "distinct from and independent of his majesty's authority." President Theodore Roosevelt later wrote that the Watauga settlers were the "first men of American birth to establish a free and independent community on the continent."

In May 1772, the Watauga and Nolichucky settlers negotiated a 10-year lease from the Cherokee, and being outside the claims of any colony, established the Watauga Association to provide basic government functions. The lease and the subsequent purchase of these lands in 1775 were considered illegal by the British Crown, and were vehemently opposed by a growing faction of the Cherokee led by the young chief Dragging Canoe. At the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, the settlers organized themselves into the "Washington District," loyal to the "united colonies," and formed a Committee of Safety. The Cherokee aligned themselves with the British, and in July 1776, launched an all-out invasion against the settlements, but were defeated.

Family Notes

Alternate birthplace notation:

(Note) Cunynghame - Baltimore Co., Maryland to Shenandoah, VA to TN - "Rev. War Veteran"

Susannah Cunningham, daughter of Christopher and Susannah Patton, and her husband Colonel Charles Robertson had nine children. One of their daughters, Susannah Robertson, was the wife of the Famous Felix Walker, member of Congress from Buncombe County, North Carolina. Another of their daughters married Robert Sevier, brother of the Famous John Sevier, first Governor of Tennessee. {n.b. this may be incorrect}

Mass confusion on this family. One source has his wife as Mary Morgan. Another has his first wife as Susannah Patton and his second wife as Mary Musgrove, widow of John Musgrove.


[1] Paul Fink, "Some Phases of the History of the State of Franklin." Tennessee Historical Quarterly Vol. XVI, no. 3 (1957), p. 195.

old notes

Christopher CUNNINGHAM was born about 1680. (393) Parents: Alexander CUNNINGHAM and (unknown) BELL.

Children were: Christopher CUNNINGHAM Jr..

As of April 2017, Geni shows Christopher Cunningham Sr as son of Alexander Cunningham & Lydia Bell.

view all 24

Christopher Columbus Cunningham, Sr.'s Timeline

Spotsylvania, Virginia
Age 18
Age 21
Age 25
Age 25
Age 42
Spottsylania, Virginia, United States
Age 44
Spottsyvania, Virginia, United States
Age 46
Spottylvania, Virginia, United States