“Russell M. Cunningham physician and surgeon, teacher, farmer, legislator, member constitutional convention, lieutenant-governor and acting-governor of Alabama, was born Aug. 25, 1855, at Mt. Hope, Lawrence County; son of Moses W, and Nancy Caroline (Russell) Cunningham of that county, the former a native of Tennessee. Dr. Cunningham received his academic education in the public schools of his native county and at the age of seventeen began teaching school. March, 1871, he began the study of medicine under Dr. John M. Clark, a distinguished physician of North Alabama. In 1878 he entered Bellevue hospital medical college, New York City, from which he graduated the following year. He located in Newburg, where he practiced for two years and in 1881 was appointed physician of the State penitentiary, and removed to Wetumpka, where in also built up and extensive private practice. In 1885 he was appointed physician and surgeon for the Tennessee coal, iron and railroad company at Pratt Mines prison, and was later also physician for the Alabama steel and ship building company. He established a private hospital at Ensley which he conducted for a number of years. During 1880-81, he represented Franklin County in the legislature and after locating in Jefferson County was a strong factor in the Democratic party there. During 1896-1900, he represented that county in the State senate and was chosen president of that body in 1898. He was the nominee for membership in the proposed constitutional convention of 1901. After the adoption of that instrument, which had recreated the office, he was elected lieutenant-governor on the ticket with William Jelks, Governor, and by virtue of this office presided over the deliberations of the senate. While holding the office of lieutenant-governor he served as acting governor of the State for a year, during the absence of Governor Jelks, who was in the west on account of ill health. At the expiration of his term of office, he resumed the practice of medicine in Ensley. He was a member of the Southern surgical and gynecological association; past president of the Tri-State medical association,1895; president, Jefferson County medical association, 1896; president, Alabama State medical association, 1900; for some years member State committee of public health; County health officer of Jefferson County, resigning that office in 1916. He was at one time professor of principles and practice of medicine in the Birmingham medical college. He married (1) August 13, 1876 in Franklin County, Sue L., daughter of Judge J. E. Moore of that county; (2) Annice Taylor of Birmingham. His son Moses, by his first wife, a physician, married Kathleen Hundley.
He was initiated in Wetumpka # 39 April 29,1882, Passed June 3, 1882, and Raised July 26, 1882. He demitted May 23, 1885.”
[Dictionary] [Grand Masters of The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons The State of Alabama 1821-2008 by Donna R. Causey]