T. A. CUNNINGHAM, who has been closely associated with the development of the Apollo Woolen Mills, at Apollo, was born April 2, 1868, in Armstrong county, Pa., son of Samuel and Rachel (Grim) Cunningham.

The founder of the Cunningham family in America was born in Ireland, of Scotch ancestry. Samuel Cunningham died when his son T. A. Cunningham was a small boy. During his early life he was employed making grain cradles and also at work on a farm. To him and his wife were born nine children, five of which family still survive, and T. A. was the fifth of the family in the order of birth. Samuel Cunningham was a Methodist, and very active in church matters. An honorable, hard-working man, he gained universal respect, and his community lost a good citizen when he passed away. His widow still survives, now sixty-nine years old, making her home with her son T. A. Cunningham. Isaac Grim, her father, was a pioneer of Armstrong county.

T. A. Cunningham attended common school in his district until he was fourteen years old, and remained with his mother until he was twenty. He then commenced working in the Carnegie Rolling Mills at Pittsburgh, from which he went to the Black Diamond steel works in that city. Prior to the great strike in the Apollo Iron & Steel Works he came hither, and after engaging in agricultural work for a short period entered those works. For six months he was a rougher, and then became a roller, continuing thus until the strike. Following this he started a fifty-seven-inch mill for the Apollo Iron & Steel Company at Vandergrift, Pa., and remained in that business until 1907. He was one of the organizers of the Trio Lumber Company at Vandergrift Heights. Meantime he had bought a farm of 168 acres in Westmoreland county upon which he lived for two years. Selling his farm, he bought a half interest in the Apollo Woolen Mills (Limited) in 1907, and in 1908 the concern was incorporated under the name of Apollo Woolen Mills, Inc., and capitalized at $30,000, $26,000 of which was at once taken up. They were handicapped somewhat by the fact that the ground on which the plant was situated did not belong to the company, but the Board of Trade of Apollo awarded them the property, so that the mills could benefit the borough, offering inducements to people to move there with the assurance of profitable employment. The mills opened up with increased capacity, being able to produce one hundred bed blankets every ten hours, the mills running one-third time on this work and two-thirds on turf goods. The officers of the company are as follows: L. W. Huyck, president; T. A. Cunningham, treasurer; W. U. Flinn, vice president; Jahn Hankey, business manager. The factory is now running full time, manufacturing to the limit of its capacity, though not always able to keep up with the demand. It is the intention of the company to expand, adding to its facilities. There is a large mail order trade. The mill is equipped with all necessary modern machinery for the manufacture of the particular line of goods turned out, and employment is given to a large number of skilled workmen.

Mr. Cunningham was married to Susan R. Shane, of Leechburg, Pa., and nine children have been born to this marriage, eight of whom are living: Eva P., Samuel C., Daniel A., George E., Thomas, Rachel N., Ester R., Iva J. and Ralph. Samuel, Daniel and George war working in the rolling mills, two of them at Indiana Harbor, and the other in Vandergrift. The rest of the children are attending school.

Mr. Cunningham has always been interested in church matters. He belongs to the Free Methodist denomination, in which he is a class leader, and he is also serving as Sunday school superintendent. He is ever ready to pay tribute to the care and training of his devoted mother, to whose influence he attributes his success in life, and in whose early lessons many of the best principles which have actuated him had their origin. The Prohibition party has his support, the evils of the liquor traffic and all other forms of intemperance making him a strong advocate of total abstinence. His encouragement is given to all movements which have the betterment of the community for their object, and he has done much for the welfare ofhis own locality.

Source: Pages 634-635 Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed September 2001 by Lynn Beatty for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

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