From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Cunningham, James C.

(born: 1787  -  died: 1877) 

James C. Cunningham was a free-born Caribbean violinist, band leader, and dance teacher. He came to Louisville, KY in 1835 and formed a band that played at various events, including a ball for President-elect Zachary Taylor. He also played a role in the underground  railroad, "work[ing] on riverboats and smuggl[ing] abolitionist literature into the city by hiding it in his sheet music," according to the University of Louisville Undeground Railroad -- Freedom Park website.

Cunningham was born in the West Indies and served in the British Navy. He was the father of James R. Cunningham.

For more see The Encyclopedia of Louisville, ed. by J. E. Kleber; History of the United Brothers of Friendship and Sisters of the Mysterious Ten, by W. H. Gibson, Sr.; and "James C. Cunningham" at Friends of Eastern Cemetery website.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Cunningham, James C.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-05-05 16:47:26