Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Alexander Cunningham’

The Death Of Henry Hull, April 26, 1883

September 8, 2013

Yes, more from the Sarah Alexander Cunningham Family Papers Collection, MS194, in the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah.

Death of Henry Hull, Esq.

Our community was startled yesterday

morning by the report of the sudden death

of Henry Hull, Esq., and it was soon as-

curtained that it was too true.  It

appears that Mr. Hull and his

family had arranged to spend the

day, which was a holiday, at Montgom-

ery, and he, with his daughter, Miss Hull,

boarded a car at the corner of Gwin-

net street, near his residence, where

he met his other daughter, Mrs. Ham-

mond, and Mr. Hammond, and their two

children, en route to the depot of the City

and Suburban Railway.  The car had

but reached New Houston street when

Mr. Hull became suddenly un-

conscious.  The car was stopped and the

unfortunate gentleman lifted out and

taken to a house near by, but life was ex-

tinct; he had probably died instantly.  Dr.

Charlton examined the remains, and pro-

nounced the cause of death apoplexy.

Mr. Hull was 59 years of age and was

the very picture of health, and apparent-

ly had may years of life before him.

He spent the night previous with his

friend Colonel Cole, at Whitehall planta-


I am embarrassed to say that when I photographed this obituary I did not get a brief section in the middle.  I swear that someday I will go back to Georgia Historical and right this wrong.

…He followed the practice

of the law for only a short time and was

afterwards identified with the banking in-

stitutions of his native city.

In 1866 he was elected to the position of

President of the Louisiana National

Bank, New Orleans, and removed

to that city, where he remained

until 1871.  In that year he came

to this city, and became

a partner in the well known banking

house of Wallace Cumming & Co., and on

the death of the senior member,  con-

tinued the business under the name of

Henry Hull & Co., his eldest son, Mr. R.

T. Hull, being admitted a partner,

Mr. Hull was a most amiable, courteous

and conscientious gentleman, and was

looked upon as one of Savannah’s best

citizens.  His death is not only a great loss

to those who were near and dear to him,

but t the community in which he was a

respected citizen.  He leaves four sons and

two daughters, one of the latter being the

wife of Mr. James Polk Hammond, of this

city.  His remains will be interred in the

Bonaventure Cemetery (where his wife

who died in 1876, is buried), this afternoon

at 3:30 o’clock.

A search on shows that he died on April 26, 1883, his residence was on Drayton Street, he was born in Athens, Georgia, and he was pronounced officially dead by the coroner.  He is buried in Bonaventure Cemetery.

The Death Of George Brown Cumming, November 12, 1878

September 8, 2013

I’m back with more transcription from the Sarah Alexander Cunningham Collection of Family Papers, MS194, at Georgia Historical Society in Savannah. These two bits of newspaper clippings were in Sarah’s mother’s scrapbook.


CUMMING.  – Died, in Savannah, Ga., on Mon-

day, November 11, 1878, GEORGE BROWN CUM-

MING, in his eighty-third year.

The friends and acquaintance of the family

are invited to attend his funeral, from the

family residence, at 12 o’clock .  THIS DAY,

the 12th instant.

And under the funeral notice:

Death of George B. Cumming, Esq.

   Our well known and venerable fellow citi-

zen, George B. Cumming, Esq., who had been

in failing health for some time past, died at

three o’clock yesterday morning at his resi-

dence, corner of South Broad and Drayton

streets.  Mr. Cumming was born in Savan-

nah and had lived here his entire life.  He

was for many years at the head of a large

and prosperous commission house, and at

one time owner of a packet line running

from this city to New York, and by good

management and attention to business,

amassed a handsome competency, enabling

him to retire from active business life about

the commencement of the late war.  He

was elected a member of the Hibernian So-

ciety on the 14th of February, 1818, his

father having been the first President when

the society was organized in 1812.

On the 17th of March, 1821, he was elected

Vice President, and on the 18th of Maerch,

1833, was elected President, which position

he held until the 24th of March,

1856, thirty-three years, when he

positively declined re-election, and the

late Hon. John J. Kelly was elected

to the position.  He was also an honorary

member of the Irish Jasper Greens.  The

deceased was in his eighty-third year, and

until the last year or so was in excellent

health and retained the possession of his

faculties to the last.  He leaves a wife and a

daughter, Mrs. W. Grayson Mann, and a

large circle of friends and acquaintances to

mourn his loss.  His funeral will take place

at twelve o’clock to-day from the family

residence, corner South Broad and Drayton

streets, and will be attended by the Hiber-

nian Society and the Jasper Greens.

Sarah Alexander Cunningham Helps Me Solve A Mystery

June 28, 2013

Do you remember Sarah Alexander Cunningham?  I wrote about her  before, but she only figured very briefly in a LawtonFest post.  No matter if you don’t remember.  We’re all going to be best friends forever very soon.

Step back into time to the 1970’s.  I know for a fact that the time frame is before 1976, because that’s when Sarah Alexander Cunningham died.  She lived a few doors down from Sugar’s grandmother on Taylor Street in Savannah.

Sarah Alexander Cunningham asked Sugar’s grandmother for Sugar to call on her, so he did.  He did not know who she was, but he did his duty, and she presented him with two candlesticks.  He supposes today that she told him the story of the candlesticks and why she wanted him to have them, but he wasn’t listening.  Bad Sugar.

So now we fast forward into time, and Sugar still has the candlesticks but no story.  We set out to try to figure out who Sarah Alexander Cunningham was, and, folks, you will begin to understand the importance of who she was and how she helped me solve a mystery from beyond the grave.

I reviewed my LawtonFest, Part 5 post, and saw that Sarah Alexander Cunningham’s mother was Nora.  That’s Nora Lawton, y’all.  And from our excursion to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library to view the A. R. Lawton Family Papers in the Southern Historical Collection, we had learned that Nora’s parents were Alexander Robert and Sarah Alexander Lawton.  And Alexander Robert Lawton and Sugar’s great-grandfather William Seabrook Lawton were *BROTHERS*, and their father was Alexander James Lawton.  Perhaps you’ve noticed there are lots of “Alexanders” in this family set-up, both as a first name and last name.


There’s a weird phenomenon on my blog.  Everyone wants to know more about Corinne Elliott Lawton.  She has a magnificent marker in Bonaventure Cemetery, and, in an effort to learn more about her, I found her obituary, which is really not an obituary at all, but a funeral invitation.

Really, every day I get hits on the blog from folks just like you using the search term, “Corinne Elliott Lawton”.  Lots of times “Corinne” or “Elliott” is misspelled, but they still find me.  As of today, my all-time most popular post is about Corinne, and it has 1,706 views.  The 2nd most popular post has 890 views.  That’s almost half of number one.

Why are they looking for Corinne?

Because there is a popular cemetery tour, and her story is one of the highlights of the tour.  Her story says that she committed suicide by drowning in the river just beyond where she is buried.  There are other accounts on the internet of similar tone, and the embellishments are bizarre.

That her family was forcing her to marry someone she didn’t love.

That she loved someone beneath her station.

That she drowned herself on her wedding day, wearing her wedding gown.

OK, y’all.  Please stop.  Because these stories are not true.  Sarah Alexander Cunningham led me to the real story.


We went to a Lawton family reunion a few weeks ago.  There were some serious researchers there.  I asked several, “Have you ever heard of Corinne Elliott Lawton?”  They all looked blank, and shook their heads.  No one had heard of her, and this is a big, widespread family reunion.  The reason that no one in the family association seems to know of her is because her father, A. R. Lawton left South Carolina and moved to Savannah, and his descendants don’t attend the family reunions.


Sarah Alexander Cunningham, 1887-1976.  She donated her collection of family letters, photos, diaries, etc. to the Georgia Historical Society.

Did I say diaries?  Did I say that her mother was Nora Lawton Cunningham, Corinne’s sister?  Did I say that Nora, Corinne, Louise, and Alexander Jr.’s mother was Sarah Alexander Lawton, and did I say that she kept diaries?


A trip to the Georgia Historical Society yesterday led me to the diaries.  You are allowed to take photos with a digital camera without flash, which I did.  You are not allowed to publish the images on the internet, so I won’t.  I signed a piece of paper that said I wouldn’t.  I did, however, transcribe the diary pages that referred to Corinne’s illness and subsequent death.  The following is from the Sarah Alexander Cunningham collection of family papers, MS 194, Box 2, Diary 1876-1884.

(Page 67)

January, 1877

Monday 8th.  This is the list

of the people that have called

for business at this door this morn-

ing, before half past twelve.

1.  A woman to ask for ivy for Mr. (?)

R. Cohen’s office.

2.  Mr. Ludden to fix the piano.

3.  Mr. Locke to fix the clock.

4.  Mrs. Cooper came to know if I am

ready for her to sew.

5.  Miss Lavender came about sewing.

6.  Mrs. Floyd came about sewing.

7.  A colored woman to ask for money

to help a very ill woman.

8.  The Doctor to see Nora.

9.  The washerwoman.

10.  Claude Sullivan’s baby to be


Mrs. Maner called before din-

ner – then Mr. Wade came to dinner.

Before we left the table, Cliff came –

the first time she has been out for

more than two weeks.  Then came Mrs.

Goodwin, Mrs.  Loullard (?), Lucy Hull,

Allie Law, & George & Hattie Hull

and so till tea time – & Wallace.

(Page 68)

We left home last summer

Aug. 17.  On the 11th I had been

taken sick, with an attack wh.  I

now think was a light form of the

epidemic wh. afterwards prevailed.

I had chill, fever, headache & pains

all over.  I treated myself with the

“9 tumblers” (of water, hot & cold alter-

nating) (?) bath of opiate.  I was

up in four days – but weak & feeble

till I left & for some time after.

The fearful epidemic broke an

(?) upon us.  A.R.L. was here

at this time – having returned after

locating us at New Holland.  He

left Aug. 31. & I met him in Atlanta.

Our family spent a month at N.

Holland & went Sept. 21 to Clarksville –

stayed there a month – then went to

Atlanta.  I returned alone to Savh

Nov. 2.  A.R.L. came the next day

from Columbus – David (?), Corinne & Nora

returned, N. from Athens & C. from

Augusta where they have been making

visits.  Lulu went to Screven Co. & only

came home Dec 15.

(Page 69)

I found the house all unprepared

on my return & had a month of toil

to have everything properly cleansed

& fumigated & put in living order.

Nora has had rheumatism, all

this time & been often confined to her

bed & of late has suffered much.

Corinne is just up after 10 days of

sickness from cold.  We have had six

weeks of severe weather.

Al came home the day before

Christmas, bringing Jim Hamilton.

Jim was here a week, & all the time

it poured rain.  Al left Jan. 2.

(Page 70)

Jan. 11.  These are the visitors

we have had today.

Dr. Thomas, Dr. Houston, Mary

Ella Hull, Allie Law, dear Auntie,

Sister Lou, Hattie & Cliff before dinner.

By the time we finished dinner,

Gulie Lawton came, then Belle Maples, Aggie Stod-

dard, Sallie Mills, & Annie Wash.

To tea – Cliff & Geo. Hull.  After tea

Mr. Ryals.

Yesterday we had Bessie Austin,

Mary Stoddard, Lucy Elliott, Bessie,

Mrs. Wilder, Lizzie Harriss, Mary Ella,

Eva Mills, Allie Law, Sallie C,

Hattie Hull.  After tea Capt.

Farley & Mr. Goles (?) (who has just come

to study in the office)

(Page 71)


Jan. 12th.  Ther. 50o.  weather fair &

warm.  & oppressive in the sun.

The sick ones half sick.  Nora

still in bed, but no pain.

Allie Law, Sallie C., Mary Ella,

Dr. Houston (to drive (?) Corinne), Mrs.

Warfield, Habersham Clay, Mrs.

Green, Annie, Mollie & Minnie,

Page Wilder, Edward Stoddard, Walton

Charlton, Liss (?) Gilmer.

Walton stayed late & I walked

home with her.  Corinne seemed so


In the evening of Sat. 13, Corinne

went to bed, promising Lulu & me

that she would keep her bed till she

was well.  How that promise was

to be fulfilled, who could have tho’t?

Her sickness seemed so light.

On Sunday I sent for Dr. Houston.

After church many of the family

came in – some to inquire after the

sick ones, some to see Florie Lawton

who arrived Thursday.  Among the

visitors was Wallace Cumming – his

(Page 72)

last visit to us!  Corinne felt

very weak & begged me not to have

her see any visitors – as she could

not talk.  Yet very little seemed

the matter.

All that week she was in bed

& had light fever at times.

Thursday night her aunt Lou

Gilmer stayed & slept in her room,

Lulu being sick.

Friday evening she was very bright

but had a restless night.  I watched

beside her much of the night.

Saturday night I stayed with her.

Then came the days of darkness

which I cannot record.  Their story

is kept by Him who has said:

“Precious in the sight of the Lord

is the death of his saints.”

Wednesday morning, Jan. 24,

at 7:40 A. M. she drew her last


(Page 73)

Wallace Cumming died.

Tuesday, Feb 6, at 5:20 A. M.

At the break of day, we answered

the doorbell & found George Hull

with his message – “it is all over”.


The previous year in 1876 there was a severe outbreak of yellow fever.  Many Savannahians sojourned to the upcountry to escape the mosquitoes which carried the disease.  It was reported that each outbreak of the fever ended in the fall when the mosquitoes died.  Corinne died in January 1877.  Shouldn’t the mosquitoes have been dead in January?

Sugar and I are here to tell you that we have mosquitoes year-round in this part of the country.  The diary shows the temperatures and the weather.  Warm, wet weather = mosquitoes.

Corinne died at home, in bed, with her family around her.


Thanks to Sarah Alexander Cunningham, we have our answer.  Finally.

Good night, and sleep well, sweet Corinne.

(Many thanks to Joanna Catron at the Gari Melchers Home and Studio who commented on the blog that the stories are untrue and need to be corrected, which caused me to continue to look for the real story.  Joanna is a Lawton scholar, and already had the truth.  For anyone not in the know, Corinne Elliott Lawton’s namesake niece Corinne Mackall married Gari Melchers.)

(Edited 4/23/2014:  I’ve heard from a new reader, Corinne Lawton Jordan, who was named for her grandmother, Corinne Lawton born in 1879, who was in turn named for her cousin, Corinne Elliott Lawton, who died from illness, not tragedy or scandal.)