Cunningham, John Todd "J.T.", Sr.
1888-1959 | Assistant General Manager, Alaska Railroad
John Todd "J.T" Cunningham Sr. was born in Grand Island, Nebraska, on January 30, 1888, the son of Alden H. Cunningham and Caroline Todd Cunningham.
Cunningham moved to Alaska in 1916 to accept the position of chief clerk with the Alaskan Engineering Commission (AEC), the temporary federal agency in charge of construction of the Alaska Railroad. Upon arriving in Seward, Alaska he traveled on the Alaska Railroad, then under construction, until the end of the track and then walked the remaining eighty-five miles to Anchorage, behind a freight sled traveling over Indian Pass.
John T. Cunningham met Eva Isabel Lockhart in 1916 in Anchorage, where they were married on July 9, 1917. The couple had two children: Dorothy (born in 1918) and J.T. "Todd" Cunningham Jr. (born July 7, 1922, in Anchorage).
Eva Lockhart was born on July 18, 1894, in Nebraska, the daughter of Francis McClintock “Frank” Lockhart and Basheba Belle “Bee” Foust Lockhart. Her father, Francis, was an Irish immigrant who became register of deeds and sheriff of Pennington County, South Dakota, and a city commissioner of Rapid City. By 1900, Belle and her daughter were living in Larimer County, Colorado, and she was separated from Frank, who was in Rapid City. Eva Lockhart, at the age of seven, then moved with her mother to Valdez, Alaska in 1901. In Valdez, her mother worked as a secretary for the Valdez Real Estate Agency and, later, as a stenographer for the Alaska Road Commission. In 1916, Belle and Eva moved again, to Anchorage.
In 1918, Cunningham was promoted to trainmaster for the AEC and then to superintendent of transportation in 1923. When the Alaska Railroad was organized as a federal agency in 1923, he continued as superintendent of transportation and, in 1948, became assistant general manager and then retired the following year.
After the abrupt departure of General Manager Otto F. Ohlson in October 1945, Cunningham assisted Colonel John P. Johnson, the new general manager, in operating the Alaska Railroad. Cunningham was lauded by his superiors in the U.S. Department of the Interior for his operational methods despite the difficulties the railroad faced because of the long strain of wartime traffic. During the military build-up in 1939-1940, the railroad carried construction equipment, men, and supplies. In addition to transporting military personnel, the Alaska Railroad carried military freight from 1939 to after the end of the war to the major military installations in mainland Alaska. The railroad carried enormous shipments for the U.S. Army, with new traffic records each year from 1940 through 1944, three and one-half times as much freight at the end of the war than it had in 1939.
Upon his retirement, Cunningham received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s highest honorary recognition, the Distinguished Service Award, for his outstanding skills and abilities and his exceptional contributions to public service. He was also a former exalted ruler of the Anchorage Elks Lodge and a lifelong Mason.
John Todd “J.T.” Cunningham Sr. died on October 5, 1959, at his home in Arlington, California. He was survived by his widow, Eva Lockhart Cunningham, and a daughter, Dorothy Cunningham Dublirer, and a son, J.T. “Todd” Cunningham Jr.
Eva Lockhart Cunningham died on August 28, 1967, in Santa Barbara, California. They are both buried at Olivewood Cemetery, in Riverside, California.
Cunningham Street, located in the Municipality of Anchorage, was named in honor of John Todd “J.T.” Cunningham Sr.
 John T. Cunningham, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 20, 2016).
 John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 131-132; and Rae Arno, Anchorage Place Names: The Who and Why of Streets, Parks, and Places (Anchorage: Todd Communications, 2008), 25. J.T. Cunningham's name and title of "Chief Clerk, Anchorage Division (Headquarters--Anchorage, Alaska)," was published in the Alaska Railroad Record, v. 1, no. 1, November 14, 1916, 8, http://site.ebrary.com/lib/akstatedash/detail.action?docID=80153197 (accessed November 20, 2016).
 Dorothy Cunningham is shown in a photograph, “Anchorage High School Student Council, 1935,” published in Fond Memories of Anchorage Pioneers, Vol. 1 (Anchorage: Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo 15, Auxiliary 4, 1996), 270.
 John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935, 131-132.
 According to Francis McClintock (“Frank”) Lockhart’s obituary (reprinted from the Leedy Collection, Minnilusa Historical Association, Rapid City, South Dakota), he “married his first wife Bathsheba [Basheba] Belle Fouse [Foust] on 24 Oct. 1893, she was 23 and from Hermosa, he was 31, by 1900 she and her daughter Eva are in Colorado and separated from Frank who is in Rapid City. On Feb. 13, 1905, he married Alice Waldron who was 23 years old, Frank was 38. In the 1920 census he is still married to Alicia or Alice. On April 7, 1923 he married Elizabeth Wallace in Huron, SD, she was from Sioux Falls.” See, Francis McClintock Lockhart, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 20, 2016).
 Eva I. Lockhart, 1900 U.S. Census, Home Precinct, Larimer County, Colorado, ED 211, page 4B, National Archives Microfilm Publication, T623, Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900, Roll 126, 1900 Federal United States Census [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 20, 2016).
 David A. Hales, Margaret N. Heath, and Gretchen L. Lake, An Index to Dawson City, Yukon Territory and Alaska Directory and Gazetteer, Alaska-Yukon Directory and Gazetteer, and Polk’s Alaska-Yukon Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1901-1912, Volume IV, L-N (Fairbanks: Alaska and Polar Regions Department, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 1995-1999), 76, https://scholarworks.alaska.edu/handle/11122/2730 (accessed November 30, 2016); and John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935, 131-132; and Francis McClintock Lockhart, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 20, 2016).
 John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935, 131-132; and Rae Arno, Anchorage Place Names: The Who and Why of Streets, Parks, and Places, 25.
 Colonel John P. Johnson served as general manager of the Alaska Railroad from October 1945 to January 1953. Evangeline Atwood, Anchorage: All-America City (Portland, OR: Binfords & Mort, 1957), 117.
 “J.C. [J.T.] Cunningham, 71, Dies in California,” Anchorage Daily News, October 6, 1959, 5.
 In fiscal year, 1939, the last nondefense year, the total tonnage carried on the Alaska Railroad was 157,904 tons. In the succeeding years, tonnages were: 194,467 tons in 1940; in 1941, 361,295 tons; in 1942, 419,867 tons; in 1943, 461,484 tons; in 1944, freight traffic set a record, with 627,847 tons; and in 1945, freight traffic dropped off, to 549,248 tons. See, William H. Wilson, Railroad in the Clouds: The Alaska Railroad in the Age of Steam, 1914-1945 (Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Company, 1977), 257-261.
 “ARR Official Dies Outside,” Anchorage Daily Times, October 6, 1959, 5; “J.C. [J.T.] Cunningham, 71, Dies in California,” Anchorage Daily News, October 6, 1959, 5; and “Cunningham Rites Set Thursday,” Anchorage Daily News, October 7, 1959, 11.
 “Services Set for Cunningham,” Anchorage Daily Times, October 7, 1959, 1; and “ARR Official Dies Outside,” Anchorage Daily Times, October 6, 1959, 5.
 See, Obituary, John Cunningham, Jr. (1922-2003), Anchorage Daily News, November 21, 2003, B-9.
 John Todd Cunningham, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 20, 2016); Eva I. Cunningham, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], http://ancestry.com (accessed November 20, 2016); and Eva L. Cunningham, California Death Index, 1940-1997 (Sacramento, CA: Center for Health Statistics, Department of Health Services, 1997), California Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line], http://ancesty.com (accessed November 20, 2016).
 Rae Arno, Anchorage Place Names: The Who and Why of Streets, Parks, and Places, 25.
This biographical sketch of John Todd "J.T." Cunningham Sr. is based on an essay which originally appeared in John Bagoy's Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001), 131-132. See also the John Todd Cunningham file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 2, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK. Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012. Note: edited, revised, and expanded by Bruce Parham, November 20, 2016.
Preferred citation: Bruce Parham, “Cunningham, John Todd ‘J.T.’,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, http://www.alaskahistory.org.
Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website, www.cookinlethistory.org.