EARL OLIVER CUNNINGHAM SR. was born in Camden on August 27, 1897 to Edgar William Cunningham and the former Lydia Zane. He was the oldest of three children, coming before brothers Edgar W. Jr. and Francis E. Cunningham.

When the census was taken in 1900 the family lived at 423 Senate Street in South Camden. Edgar Cunningham was then working as a railroad brakeman.

Earl Cunningham was baptized at Kaighn Avenue Methodist Church on December 2, 1906.

The 1910 Census shows Edgar Cunningham still working for the railroad, at this point as a slip tender. The family was living at 1007 Locust Street, along with widowed paternal grandmother Rebecca Cunningham.

Earl Cunningham served in the United States armed forces during World War I. He married Catherine M. Anderson in 1918. A daughter, Marie, was soon born, followed quickly by son Earl Jr.

The 1920 Census shows Earl and Catherine Cunningham and their daughter Marie at 461 Mechanic Street. Earl Cunningham was then working as a house carpenter. Living next door at 463 Mechanic Street was Richard S. Marter, a member of the Camden Fire Department and father of William Marter, who would go on to have a long career as a Camden policeman. A son Earl O. Cunningham Jr. was born shortly after the census was enumerated. 

Earl Cunningham was appointed to the Camden Police Department in the 1920s

The April 1930 Federal census shows the Cunningham family at 451 Mechanic Street. By 1938 they had moved across the street to 448 Mechanic Street. They were still at that address as late the fall of 1956. 

When the 1959 New Jersey Bell telephone Directory was compiled, Earl Cunningham Sr. and his wife Catherine had moved out of Camden. Earl Cunningham Sr. passed away in Miami, Florida in August of 1967.


Camden Courier-Post - June 24, 1933

Unusual Record

Three generations of the Cunningham family were listed yesterday as graduates of the Fetters School, each of whom were taught by the same instructor.

Latest to join the ranks of "grads" is Earl Cunningham, Jr., son of Policeman Earl Cunningham, also a graduate of the same school.

Earl, who lives at 451 Mechanic street, is winner of the annual Sullivan cash award for scholarship. He is a grandson of the late Edgar Cunningham, the policeman's father who also attended the school and was taught by the same teacher who tutored son and grandson. She is Miss Lillian T. Osler, recently retired by the board of education.

The youngest graduate whose chief desire is the study of medicine when he finishes the high school course, is 12 years old and finished with highest honors in his class.

Camden Courier-Post
February 21, 1938

Camden Courier-Post * February 22, 1938

Youth 'Blackjacked' at Party; Father Retains Lawyer, to Investigate

Police Chief Arthur Colsey yesterday detailed three detectives to investigate a street row early Sunday at Fourth and Mechanic streets in which a Fairview youth and a Camden policeman were involved. 

The youth, Walter Callahan, 21, of 1375 Roanoke Road, is confined to Cooper Hospital with a slight brain concussion  and head cuts he said he received when "blackjacked" by Policeman Earl Cunningham, of 448 Mechanic street.

Chief Colsey removed Cunningham from duty yesterday afternoon pending completion of the probe. 

The investigation ordered by Colsey followed after Walter Callahan Sr., father of the youth, retained an attorney for the purpose, he said, "of getting at the bottom of this." Chief Colsey said that young Callahan had refused to talk to detectives at the hospital. 

The elder Callahan, a Gloucester druggist, said he had learned that his son was "more or less of an innocent bystander" in a row that started in the Cunningham home and that he received a "severe beating" from Cunningham and the latter's son, "Bud."

"My son went to a party at the Cunningham home," Callahan said, "and there, I am told, a row started between young Cunningham and a girl. My son objected to a remark passed to the girl and then Cunningham and his son jumped on my boy and beat him."

"I have retained Charles A. Cogan, a Camden attorney, and have instructed him to make a thorough investigation preliminary to proceeding with court action." 

Prefers Drunk Charge 

Detectives Clifford Carr, Donald Switzer and John Opfer were named by Colsey to make an investigation for the police department. 

Cunningham, who caused a detainer to be lodged against Callahan on a charge of being drunk and disorderly; told his superiors he was forced to use his blackjack on Callahan when the youth attacked him and tore his shirt and underwear.

According to the policeman, who was off duty at the time, Callahan attended a party in the Cunningham home celebrating the policeman's wedding anniversary. Cunningham said Callahan left the house and became engaged in a noisy argument with two girls outside. He said the youth attacked him when he came out and sought to quiet Callahan.