Thomas Scott Cunningham
Born March 30, 1790 in Washington County, Pennsylvania, the Honorable Thomas Scott Cunningham was the son of Donegal, Ireland immigrant Alexander Cunningham and Washington County native Elizabeth Scott. He received an early education in area subscription schools, eventually graduating from Washington College in 1811. Cunningham read law and joined the Washington County bar in 1813. Moving to Mercer County in 1817, the governor appointed Thomas deputy attorney general while he served as the county postmaster. There, he married Matilda Cook of Washington County in 1824.
Thomas secured a Mercer County seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1825 through 1829, returning in October 1838 as the Speaker of the calamitous Cunningham house during the Buckshot War. From 1829 to 1838, Cunningham served in the state Senate, first as a Jackson Republican, later as an Anti-Mason and Whig, and from 1835 to 1837, was Senate Speaker. Cunningham emerged as a highly respected member of the upper house, appointed Chairman of the Judiciary Committee for the better part of his career. He backed the 10-hour public works labor and the referendum organizing the 1837 constitutional convention.
Called “General” by his constituents, the Honorable Thomas S. Cunningham became an associate judge of Mercer County from 1849 until his death. In addition to his political and legal career, Thomas taught normal school in Mercer borough from 1840 through 1844, receiving a second federal appointment as postmaster. Regarded as “generous and kind-hearted,” he died in Mercer at the home of his daughter, Grace Findlay, March 28, 1855, age 64.