MARTIN J. CUNNINGHAM has been a resident of Springfield, Mo., for the past seventeen years, coming thither in 1876 from Auburn, N. Y., where he is the owner of a machine shop which is conducted under the firm name of Cunningham, Bailey & Co. He was born in County Mahone, Ireland, in 1838, a son of John and Catherine Cunningham, who came to this country in 1855 and took up their residence at Syracuse, N. Y., where the father died some twenty years ago, his widow still surviving him. Martin J. Cunningham is one of their three children and his early boyhood days were spent in his native land, where he obtained a very good education. At the age of seventeen years he entered a mercantile establishment and had become well posted in this line of business endeavor when the great Civil War of this country broke out. During this time he worked with the firm of Rogers & Spencer, and later with the Remington Revolver Works, after which he was with the Stone Company at Binghampton, N. Y., and in the New York Navy Yards of Brooklyn. From this place he returned to his early home in New York and embarked in business with Mr. Bailey and the firm of Cunningham, Bailey & Co. was formed. About 1876 Mr. Cunningham became attracted to Springfield and for some time after reaching this place he had charge of the machinery department of the woolen mills of the city and later became foreman of the Perkins Water Works. In 1887 he established the Cunningham Machine Works, which, with the exception of a year or so, he has conducted successfully ever since. He carries on all kinds of foundry work but makes a specialty of building hand-power elevators and steam-power elevators, thirty-one of which he has put in different public buildings of Springfield. The present company is composed of T. F. Gray and M. J. Cunningham, under the firm name of the Columbian Elevator Company, and has facilities for manufacturing elevators of all kinds and of any capacity. They make a specialty of the Columbian elevator, which has many points of advantage over those of other makers, one of them being that it is very simple in construction, thereby making it light running, although it is strong and durable. It is absolutely safe, for it is so arranged that the eccentric acts as an equalizer, throwing an equal strain on each cable, there being two, and should either cable break the elevator automatically locks itself, thereby rendering danger to occupants absolutely impossible. The company has fitted up some of the largest warehouses of the city and other points with this elevator and have met with a gratifying success and a constantly increasing trade. Their plant is an exceptionally complete one and all the machinery used is of the very latest and best kind, among which is found the latest gear-cutting machine. Mr. Cunningham was married to Miss Ann Nevins, of New York State (though a native of Ireland), and to their union a family of seven children have been given, six of whom are living. He has a comfortable home at 738 Boonville Street, his prosperous business house being advantageously located on the corner of Benton Avenue and Water Street. He has always been a man of energy and public spirit and has taken a great deal of interest in the political affairs of his section. Mr. Cunningham is of a very ingenious turn of mind and has invented a machine for trimming hedge by horse-power, which has proven a great success, but the cost of its manufacture prevents it from being in general use. He has also invented a machine for the cutting and peeling of potatoes and other vegetables, as well as other inventions which have proven of a very practical and useful kind. All of his inventions show that he is a man of brains and one who uses them for the benefit of his fellow men. He is one of the leading business men of Springfield, where he has, by right living, gathered about him a large patronage and a wide circle of friends.
Springfield-Greene County Library