DEATH of WILLIAM CUNLIFF
Friday, May 9, 1902
William Cunliff ex-postmaster of Vernon
and a highly respected citizen and soldier died here last Friday and was buried
Sunday afternoon at the Vernon cemetery. The funeral was preached by Rev.
Holmes of the Baptist Church and the services were conducted by the Baldwin Post
of the G.A.R.
Mr. Cunliff was born in 1842. He leaves two sisters and one
brother. He was a school teacher for several years. In his youth he united with
the Baptist church at Wirt, Ind. and became a member of the Vernon Baptist
church in 1879.
The following is the army history of Mr. Cunliff as read at the grave of the
deceased by Judge T. C. Batchelor
When the great
strife that tried our country in the cruel crucible of Civil War began in 1861,
Wm. Cunliff was a country lad, 19 years old. He had been raised on a farm and
attended the common schools of the neighboring county, Jefferson. He had been
dilligent in his studies, so that he possessed a through common school
education, and more that that, he was a young man of good habits, right conduct,
even temper, gentle in disposition, but firm as adamant in the right. As clear
to him as his own life was the existence of his country and the maintenance of
its free institutions and handling not the certainty of fatigue and hardship in
camp and on the march, nor the uncertanty of the out come, and perchance wounds
and death upon the battlefield, he enlisted in July, 1861 in Co. H 27th Regt.
Indiana Volunteers, in which gallant and highly disciplined regiment, he did
faithful service for three long years. He fought with it in all the skirmishes
and battles in which it was engaged until he was wounded near the latter part of
his service. He was under Banks in the valley of the Shenandoah, and in the
great battles of Winchester, Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville and was
in the front ranks with the brave men who hurled back the mighty charge of
Picket's division at Gettysburg - that greatest battle of the
His regiment was transferred from the army of
the Potomac to the West in 1863, after the disaster to the army of the
Cumberland at Chickamauga in the spring and summer of 1864, he fought with
Sherman's great army in the campaign from Cattanooga to Atlanta that campaign
which was one long drawn out battle for months, during all the time of which the
crack of the musket or the roar of the cannon was heard on some part of the
advancing line. Having served his country well and faithfully, he was discharged
on the 12th day of September 1864 at Atlanta, GA still suffering at the time
from wounds received in that campaign. He was first sergeant of his company and
should have been a commissioned officer. During his entire service he maintained
his integrity and scorned to depart from the path of right and justice. When
offered a commission as 2nd lieutenant (which was his right in the line of
promotion) if he would pay a bribe of $200, his manly reply to the tempter was
"If I do not merit a commission I do not want it, if to become a commissioned
officer I must buy my commission, I will never have one." And he never did. He
was made of the metal of Cromwall's invincible army, men who fought and prayed
and prayed and fought for the cause they thought to be just and righteous.
During his whole career in the army he is not known to have done a dishonerable
act, but amid all temptation he was the same genial, brave and faithful soldier.
He was serene under all circumstances and upon all occasions. While he could be
indignant and give expression to his feelings at an act or injustice to himself,
or a worthy commrade, no expression of anger or act of violence was ever
suffered to escape him. One who knew him well and intimately all his life,
who was a schoolmate with him in his boyhood, remarked that he had never seen
him out of humor. His comrades who served with him during the war can, with one
acclaim, testify to his honor and bravery as a soldier; those who affiliated
with him in the church, know how steadfast and consistant he was as a Christian;
and we all, who knew him and associated with him as neighbors and friends, can
bear witness that he was a good citizen, a kind and obliging friend, a
remarkably modest man, a truthful and most loveable neighbor, and more than all
these, that he was the noblest work of God - an honest
At the time of his death he was and for several years
had been commander of Baldwin post, No. 340 of the G.A.R, transacted all its
business and was its mainstay and life.
He died on the 2nd
day of May, 1902, and on the 4th his mortal remains were laid in the Vernon
Cemetery by the members of his post, assisted by the members of his company and
other comrades. Let his weakness if any he had, be covered with the mantle of
charity and let us remember and strive to imitate his many virtues.
In the 1870
census for Jefferson County, William Cunliff is 28 years old and still
at home with his parents and siblings.
In the 1880 census he is
married to Minerva Cox and living in Jennings County, A Susan Cox living in
the household is listed as daughter but this must be incorrect as he did not
marry until after she was born in 1861, it is more likely what we would call
today a step-daughter as his wife Minerva is considerably older than he is and
could have a daughter from a previous marriage to a Cox. Also listed as
living in the household is a niece Minnie Hill age 13.
In the 1900
census he is living alone in Vernon at 40 Jackson St. and listed a widowed since
Minerva was 17 or so years older than he that is logical, no children
listed with him, but just a few houses away at 42 Jackson St. is a Susie Cox age
40 who is likely the Susan Cox listed in his househould in 1880.
found a Minerva Hill who was married to a James Cox, James died in 1876, it
appears to me Minerva then married William Cunliff which makes sense then that a
niece named Minnie Hill would have been living with William Cunliff and his wife
Minerva in 1880. The timing is also right for her marriage to William as a
widow. She died in 1893 which would have left William a widower in the 1900
census. Minerva also had a daughter Susan Emma Cox born in 1859/60 which also
works to prove this is the correct family.
Minerva Hill was a daughter
of the Reverend Thomas Hill Jr. and his wife Susanna Buster Hill. Her first
marriage to James Henderson Cox produced at least 9 children.
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