Woman of the Century/Elizabeth L. Cunnyngham
CUNNYNGHAM, Mrs. Elizabeth Litchfield, missionary and church worker, born in ELIZABETH LITCHFIELD CUNNINGHAM. Abingdon, Va., 23rd February. 1831. Her maiden name was Elizabeth King Litchfield. Her parents were of old Virginia stock, true in all respects to the family history and traditions. Miss Litchfield received the best elementary training which the country could afford, and, when sufficiently advanced, was placed in Science Hill Academy, under the care of Mrs. Julia A. Tevis. While at that school she was converted and became an earnest and active Christian. After her return to Virginia she taught school, not from necessity, but of choice, her father having ample means. She felt it to be her duty to engage in some useful occupation, and she saw no position more promising than that of a teacher of voting people. In March, 1851. she became the wife of Rev. W. G. E. Cunnyngham, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and in 1852 sailed from New York with her husband for Shanghai, China, as a missionary to the Chinese. She remained in the mission field nine years, when the failure of her health compelled her to return to her native land. During her stay in China she studied diligently, and with uncommon success, the Chinese language. She superintended native mission schools, instructed Chinese women and children orally, and translated into the local dialect tracts and small books, some of which have remained in use to the present time. A native woman, for years employed as a "Bible woman" by the mission in Shanghai, was brought to a knowledge of the gospel by Mrs. Cunnyngham's personal efforts. After she returned to America, she lost nothing of her missionary spirit, but labored as far as she had opportunity in the home work, doing all she could to awakened deeper interest among her own people in the cause of foreign missions. When the Woman's Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized, she was made one of the managers, a position she has held ever since. She was elected editor of leaflets by the board, and for six years discharged with acceptability the duties of that office. In addition to her labors in the missionary cause, she is an active Sunday-school teacher, an efficient helper in local church work, and a practical friend of the poor. She has traveled much. Her husband having been elected to one of the editorial chairs of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, she removed to Nashville, Tenn.. in 1S75. and still resides in that city.