Edna Cunningham was born on August 24, 1889 at Center, Alabama. She was the daughter of James Davidson Cunningham and Mary Josephine “Molly” (Moore) Cunningham. The Cunningham family moved to the Malakoff area some time around 1910. In 1917, Edna Cunningham married Roby Ingram Broyles who died in 1925 in a tragic accident when a tree he was chopping down fell on him. Roby and Edna Broyles had one child, Edna Vanice Broyles, born in 1923.
“Miss Edna,” as she was known to many in Malakoff, was employed as a telephone operator for the Gulf States Telephone Company, first from 1916 to 1918, and then continually from 1925 until her retirement in 1961.
In her capacity as telephone operator, Miss Edna became the local bureau of information, and she figured it was her duty to keep up with all the happenings of the community – who was sick, who was visiting, the babies born, marriages, deaths, and the time of day. She always went far beyond the call of duty in looking after the needs of “her people.”
Miss Edna began her telephone career back in the days of the old magneto hand-crank system, when the telephone operator was called the “Hello Girl.” The local telephone system in the early days was operated by Mr. and Mrs. S. L. Boyett. Miss Edna continued working for the telephone company when it was taken over by the Gulf States Telephone Company and was in charge of the local telephone office until her retirement.
When she retired in 1961, Miss Edna said, “It seems like my residence is getting further from the office every day. I am going to take life easy and visit friends and relatives that time has not made possible before. I will miss Gulf States and the many people with whom I have come in contact during the business years.”
With her retirement, another era in the community life of Malakoff passed into history.
After serving the community of Malakoff for 55 years, Miss Edna moved to the Odd Fellows Home in Ennis in 1966. She died on September 12, 1979 at Methodist Hospital in Dallas and is buried in the Malakoff City Cemetery.
Sources: The Malakoff News (various articles), 1910 United States Census, “Texas, Births and Christenings, 1840-1981”