Former Montgomery County Judge, Speaker of the House Honored

August 15, 2012

From the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle
By: Tony Centonze

The namesake of the John T. Cunningham Community Room in the Montgomery County Court House was honored Sunday afternoon by his family and notable community members.

Cunningham served as Speaker of the House and, subsequently, county judge for Montgomery County. His name is also attached to the John T. Cunningham Bridge, which spans the Cumberland River and, when it was built, allowed for the first time the northern and southern parts of Montgomery County to be connected by roads, rather than ferries.

Cunningham was born and raised in Dickson and later attended law school at Vanderbilt University. He became a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives and, at the age of 30 and only his second term, he was elected Speaker of the House – a rare feat.

Cunningham served in that role until 1909, at which time he settled in Clarksville and began his law practice while simultaneously overseeing the operation of his farm, Minglewood.

In 1918, Cunningham ran for county judge and won. He held that office until the time of his death in 1945.

At that time, the office ranged wider than it does today. In addition to being a criminal judge, he had much of the responsibility of the county mayor. Schools, roads and bridges were among the many responsibilities that fell under his purview.

The court room was filled with family and friends as the stories of his life were told. A framed copy of the  House/Senate Joint Resolution was hung in honor of his life’s work and Aug. 12, John T. Cunningham Day.