Henderson County, Kentucky Biography


Walter W. CUMNOCK is one of a large progeny, there having been born unto his parents twelve children. Of that number, eleven are living at this time, eight boys and three girls. To say that he sprang from a prentage gifted in the successful handling of intricate machinery in all of its multiplied workings and movements, is only to tell that he, too, has inherited, in a full measure, of that blessing so liberally showered upon those who have gone before him.

Walter first saw the dawn of light in Scotland, in the year 1846, and before he had attained to the age of two years, was with a doting father and mother, upon the bosom of the “dark blue sea” en route to this free land – America. His father’s name was Robert L. CUMNOCK; his mother’s maiden name, Margaret GOODLET, both Scotch born. The grandfather, on the paternal side, was an officer in the British army, as was also a brother of Robert L. CUMNOCK. The grandfather on the maternal side was a mill mechanic and worked in a mill. The grandmother on the maternal side was an English woman and died when she was quite young. The parents of Walter worked in a mill in Scotland, the father being both a mill boss and mule spinner.

Upon the arrival of the CUMNOCK family in this country, they located in Lowell, Massachusetts, and engaged in the mill business. Walter W. CUMNOCK was educated in Mason, New Hampshire, and Lowell, Massachusetts. His education was not confined to books alone, but he was instructed in the art of cotton spinning, and from close application and intelligent determination, has risen from an apprentice to a master of mill machinery and cotton spinning. He has traveled in this country, Canada, and Europe, and wherever a point could be gained, he made it a study, to his advantage, so that today he is justly ranked among the foremost cotton mill Superintendents of America.

Walter is one of a family of experts in the manufacture of textile fabrics. There are five brothers, all cotton mill managers, and hold under charge, nine thousand operators, and eleven thousand looms; more operatives and looms, than are controlled by any other family of kinsmen in this or perhaps any other country. Robert L. CUMNOCK, Jr., who is a graduate of Middleton University, Connecticut, and Professor of Elocution and English Literature at Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University, is also a brother. During the year 1880, and at the age of thirty-four years, Mr. CUMNOCK was given charge as Superintendent of the Evansville Indiana Cotton Mills, and while there, married Miss Lizzie PRIEST, 26 Oct 1882. The result of that union has been two children; the eldest, a boy, died at three months of age. Mrs. CUMNOCK is a daughter of Hon. and Mrs. George M. PRIEST, and granddaughter of Rev. and Mrs. Joel LAMBERT.

Mr. CUMNOCK was too young – even though he had desired – at the outbreak of the late war, to take part as a soldier. He has avoided politics, from the fact that he has no liking for that kind of excitement; he was never an office holder, and was never an applicant for office. In church faith he is a strict Presbyterian. During the year 1883 he visited Henderson with a view of engaging her capitalists in a cotton mill enterprise, of which they knew but little, but of which he was thoroughly posted in every detail. He secured an audience and made known his plans; how well he succeeded, stands today a monument to his intelligence, his far reaching judgement, and dating spirit. Cast your eye to the east, and there see that grand three-story brick structure, with its accompanying outbuildings, setting on a hill, a town of itself. From the ground to the roof, this great building contains its hundreds of machines, doing their work with more precision and niceness than man can do, however so well he be educated in the are of working textile fabrics. We refer to the cotton mill, built at an outlay of a few thousand dollars less than a half million. Walter W. CUMNOCK has been the head and front, the wheel within a wheel of this great and eminently successful enterprise, and today he treads the aisles, and superintends the movements of one of the most magnificent and primising cotton mills to be found on the American Continent.

Starling’s History of Henderson County, Kentucky, 1887.




Mrs. Walter Cumnock, 14 Nov 1940, Space #3

Walter Walker Cummock, 16 Aug 1903, Space #4

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS