William Moore Cunningham was born 9 March 1829 at Newark, Ohio. The son of Mr. & Mrs. John Cunningham, he received his early education in the public schools of Newark and later attended Harvard College. His early business life was devoted to the book business in Newark. He later was a resident of Columbus, Ohio for four years where he was employed as a statistician in the office of the Secretary of State. He then returned to Newark and was engaged in the insurance business.
His first wife, Mary Reese Cunningham, passed away in 1898, and to this union one child, Sanford, was born. In May of 1906 he was united in marriage with Miss Mary Williams of Newark. During his life he was active and faithful in the Swedenborgian Church.
He was initiated an Entered Apprentice on May 3, 1850, passed May 18, 1850 and raised May 25, 1850 in Newark Lodge No. 97, which Lodge he served as Master in 1859 and 1860. He was elected Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio in 1874, Deputy Grand Master in 1875 and 1876, and was Worshipful Grand Master in 1877 and 1878.
His first recorded attendance at Grand Lodge was in 1855 and the record shows that he attended 54 consecutive Annual Communications. He was a charter member of the Masonic Veterans Association and President at the time of his death.
He was a member of Warren Chapter No.6 R. A. M., Newark, Bigelow Council No.7 R. & S. M. Newark and Clinton Commandery No.5 K. T., Mt. Vernon, later joining Mt. Vernon Commandery No.1 and St. Luke’s Commandery No. 34.
M.W. Brother Cunningham served as Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter R. A. M. in 1900 and Grand Master of the Grand Council of the R. & S. M. in 1865 and 1866. He was a member of the Valley of Cincinnati A. A. S. R. and was coroneted an honorary 33rd on May 20, 1865.
M.W. Brother Cunningham was one of the best known Masonic writers in the world and was recognized as an authority on Masonic subjects. He was a thorough student of Masonic literature and was, perhaps, without rival in the field of Masonic history and ritualism. His writings, as chairman of the Committee of Foreign Correspondence for the Grand Lodge of Ohio, were quoted frequently and probably did more than any other writings to make Ohio Masonry known throughout the world. While he was strong and forceful in his own style of writing, he was considerate of the views of others and never failed to give credit to his associates, whether they agreed with his own views or not.
M.W. Brother Cunningham was the compiler and author of many Masonic books. Perhaps, one of his most famous books was the first volume of the three volume series of the Masonic history of Ohio. He had barely completed his work on this volume when the summons came that called him to lay down his pen and close his eyes upon its final pages, This was on August 16, 1909 at Newark, Ohio. Masonic services were conducted on August 19, 1909 by The Grand Lodge of Ohio and he was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Section 6, Newark, Ohio.