Last modified on April 7, 2022, at 11:30

Charles Milton Cunningham

Charles Milton Cunningham

In office
Preceded by Leopold Caspari
Succeeded by J. Isaac Friedman

Born April 2, 1877
New Orleans, Louisiana
Died May 17, 1936 (aged 59)
Natchitoches, Louisiana
Resting place Catholic Cemetery in Natchitoches
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Alicia Evelena Payne Cunningham (married 1898-1936, his death)
Relations William Tharp Cunningham (brother)

John William Payne
Mildred Methvin

Children Charles M. Cunningham, Jr.

John Hamilton Cunningham
W. Peyton Cunningham
Charles Murray Cunningham
Joseph Blanchard Cunningham
Mary Cunningham Miller
Sister Elisabeth Cunningham

Alma mater Northwestern State University
Occupation Educator, then Attorney

Publisher of The Natchitoches Times (1903-1930)

Religion Roman Catholic

Charles Milton Cunningham (April 2, 1877 – May 17, 1936) was an attorney and newspaper publisher from Natchitoches in northwestern Louisiana, who served as a Democratic state senator from 1915 to 1922.[1]

His second son, W. Peyton Cunningham, also a Natchitoches lawyer, served from 1932 to 1940 in the Louisiana House of Representatives, alongside Leon Friedman of the Natchez community in south Natchitoches Parish.[2]


Born in New Orleans to a prominent family, Cunningham was the son of Milton Joseph Cunningham and Cunningham's second wife, the former Anne Peyton (1852-1878). His mother died of tetanus when he was ten months old and is interred in New Orleans. He was thereafter reared in Natchitoches, where he graduated from what is now Northwestern State University. He became a highly regarded educator but left the field to study law. Admitted to the bar, he ran for a district judgeship at the age of twenty-nine but was narrowly defeated. He then served on the Natchitoches Parish Police Jury, the parish governing body now known as the Natchitoches Parish Commission. In 1903, he founded The Natchitoches Times, which he edited until 1930.[3]

Cunningham's father, Milton Joseph Cunningham, was a political figure in Natchitoches, DeSoto Parish, and New Orleans, where he spent his later years. After service in both houses of the state legislature, he became the state attorney general, a position which he filled from 1884 to 1888 and again from 1892 to 1900.[3]

In 1898, Cunningham married Alicia Evelena Payne, a daughter of William Edward Payne (1830-1884) and the former Marie Eliza Blanchard (1846-1915). Alicia's brother, John William Payne, was the sheriff of Natchitoches Parish from 1914 until his death in 1933. Her nephew, William "Bill" Payne, followed his father as sheriff.[4]Mrs. Cunningham, known in her later years as "Miss Lena," continued to publish the paper after her husband's death. She too was a graduate of Northwestern State University and the 1893 class valedictorian. She taught school for a time in Tallulah in Madison Parish in northeastern Louisiana and in Lecompte in south Rapides Parish]. During World War II, she was cited for the work of The Natchitoches Times in promoting drives for scrap iron and aluminum. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized her work in promoting the sale of war bonds.[4]

The Cunninghams had six other children, Charles Milton Cunningham, Jr. (1899-1907), Joseph Blanchard Cunningham (1904-1976), Anna Mary Cunningham (1907 - c. 1992), John Hamilton Cunningham (1908-1945), killed in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium in World War II, Charles Murray Cunningham (1912-1981), and a Roman Catholic nun, Elisabeth Cunningham (1915-2003), based at the Our Lady of the Lake Convent in San Antonio, Texas.[4] Cunningham, his wife, and other relatives are interred at Catholic Cemetery in Natchitoches.[5]


  1. Membership in the Louisiana Senate, 1880-Present. Retrieved on October 2, 2014.
  2. Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2024: Natchitoches Parish. Louisiana House of Representatives. Retrieved on November 22, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Milton Joseph Cunningham obituary, The New Orleans Times Picayune, October 20, 1916.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Alicia Evelena Payne Cunningham. Retrieved on October 2, 2014; material no longer accessible on-line.
  5. Lallah Hill Cunningham Methvin. Retrieved on November 22, 2020.