Malakoff Faces and Places – The James Davidson Cunningham Family of Malakoff

The James Davidson Cunningham family of Malakoff

The individuals pictured are as follows:

Seated (Left to Right):

James Davidson Cunningham  – patriarch of the family

Mary Josephine “Molly” Moore Cunningham – matriarch of the family

Standing (Left to Right):

Leona Belle Cunningham Anderson – worked for the post office in Malakoff.  Married Lee Roy Anderson.  They had one son, Roy Drennon Anderson.  She lived to be 100 years old.

Roy Edwin Cunningham – worked for the Cotton Belt Railroad as a fireman on freight trains and a conductor on passenger trains.  He served in the US Navy during WWII.  Roy married Lucille Lena Hoffman.  They lived in Tyler for the remainder of their lives.  He was extremely active in the Masonic Lodge and she in the Eastern Star.

Willard Linton Cunningham – worked the Cunningham family farm until WWII when he enlisted in the Seabees and served in the South Pacific.  After WWII, he returned to civilian life and served as the foreman for the carpenters working maintenance at Ft. Chaffee located near Ft. Smith, Arkansas.  He served as choir director at the First Methodist Church of Ft. Smith for most of the remainder of his life.

Lutie Delma Cunningham Anderson – cared for her mother and worked at Kirby’s store in Malakoff until after her mother’s death.  She then moved to Tyler.  Lutie married Reverend Willard Moultry Anderson, a Methodist minister, who died at an early age.  They had two children, Willard Moultry Anderson, Jr., and Charles Sylvester Anderson, who both graduated from Malakoff High School.

Hilary Herbert Cunningham – was on the first Malakoff High School basketball team.  He worked at Kirby’s store until he met and married Bettie Byars (Stallcup) Cunningham.  He lived and farmed the remainder of his life in the North Texas area.  He was an active lay leader in the Methodist Church and a civic leader serving on two school boards.  They had one child, Hilary Herbert Cunningham, Jr.

Edna Cunningham Broyles – worked for the Malakoff telephone company for 55 years.  She and Roby I. Broyles eloped.  Roby Broyles died a few years later when a tree that he was chopping down fell on him.  They had one daughter, Vanice Broyles Oster James.  Vanice graduated from Malakoff High School, and she then went to work on the staff of Senator W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel.  Edna Broyles is remembered by a great many because of her extended service as the telephone operator in Malakoff.

Photograph and information courtesy of the late Vanice Broyles James.

A “Bit” of Looking Back – Roby I. Broyles Killed Instantly (April, 1925)

from The Malakoff News
9 April, 1925

Roby Ingram Broyles and Edna Alma Cunningham Broyles


Malakoff Faces and Places – Edna Alma Cunningham Broyles


Roby Ingram Broyles and Edna Alma Cunningham Broyles

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.

Edna Broyles' retirement party

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”